A third of primary school parents say exams are making their children stressed, according to a new study looking into the pressure pupils are put under during their school years.
New research by home education provider Oxford Home Schooling reveals that even primary school children are being strained by the prospect of their academic performance.
The study reveals that, alongside a third (33%) of parents saying their child feels stressed by exams, two in five parents (40%) of pupils aged between five and 11 feel there is too much pressure on their children to perform well in them.
The figure is particularly concerning when compared to secondary school pupils, whose exam stress levels have been widely reported on recently, with the revised GCSE system. The research showed that 37% feel stressed about exams, while 46% of their parents feel they are too pressured – only slightly higher than much younger children.
Homework is also a cause for concern, with a quarter (25%) of parents of all ages of school children believing that too much homework is set for them.
In fact, 13% of primary school pupils spend five hours or more on homework a week, compared to 39% of those at secondary school and more than half (55%) of sixth form or college students.
Between the ages of five and 16, children will sit four rounds of compulsory exams, not including the 11+ and Common Entrance exams that those applying for grammar or private schools will take. Primary school pupils take Key Stage 1 and 2 exams for English, Maths and Science, while some GCSE pupils can sit down to as many as 25 individual tests.
Dr Nick Smith, Principal at Oxford Home Schooling, said: “It will be a shock to some to find out that almost as many primary school children are stressed by exams as secondary school pupils. Although school is a place for learning, in primary education it’s just as important to allow children to feel comfortable, so that they can learn more efficiently and effectively.
“At five years old, children in the UK start school a year earlier than in most other European countries – two years earlier for those in Northern Ireland. They’ll spend around 10,500 hours of their lives in school before they’re 16 years old.
“The classroom itself can be a stressful setting for many, and that can stick with children for a long time. So it’s very important for parents and teachers to recognise when a child is stressed and find alternative ways of helping them cope. Home schooling can be one of the most effective ways of doing this.”
For advice on how to approach exams for parents and home schooling tutors, visit Oxford Home Schooling. Read more about improving children’s mental health at home and at school.