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Exams have an impact on students' mental health

Column by Florence Hill, a student of Walton Academy Sixth Form

Should our mental health pay the price for academic success?

In today’s economic climate it appears that a person’s educational achievements are more important than ever.

My generation is so privileged in so many ways and we are so fortunate to have a great range of opportunities in the education system.

Florence Hill, Walton Academy sixth form (13658736)
Florence Hill, Walton Academy sixth form (13658736)

However, as with many things there is a down-side.

The negative impact GCSEs and A-levels are having on students’ mental health is clear.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, is quoted as saying: “Preparing for and taking exams places a lot of pressure on young people. Worryingly for some these feelings can act as a trigger to them developing mental health issues.”

A person’s future largely rests on what they get in their A-levels or BTECs, as they are what determine your place at university/apprenticeship or at a job.

The detrimental effect a person’s results can have on their future creates a huge amount of pressure to do well. This pressure causes an immense amount of stress.

I personally have experienced the negative aspects ofA-levels. My personal life has been affected due to my large workload that has made me miss out on social events.

I have felt the pressure of academic success and the disheartening nature of academic failure.

Unfortunately, I am not an anomaly; everyone feels the immense pressure and workload that A-levels and BTECs present.

Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs bu formerly the Education Secretary, commented that “changes will make these qualifications more ambitious”.

However, he failed to acknowledge how this struggle to reach the higher grades dramatically increases the workload and the stress to achieve the desired/needed grades.

I do not believe that the system we have now considers, firstly, a student’s true academic potential or how hard they have worked and, secondly, the mental wellbeing of those taking A-levels and BTECs whose workload is beyond reason.

The chances of changing the educational system are slim so the best we can do is look after those we know are under lots of stress and encourage them in any way you can. Being there for someone will make all the difference and really help them out.

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