Mental health and wellbeing should come before exams, teachers say

The focus on exams in schools is being prioritised over the wellbeing of pupils, according to a survey by the charity YoungMinds.

Around 80 per cent of teachers agreed that the focus on exams is becoming “disproportionate to the overall wellbeing of students”, the survey suggests.

Seventy per cent think that the government should rebalance the education system to focus more on student wellbeing.

It was also found that 91 per cent of teachers would welcome greater recognition of the work they do to support wellbeing, and almost three-quarters would welcome a change to the Ofsted framework so that student wellbeing is given a greater focus.

A separate survey of 1,003 parents across Britain also showed that 92 per cent of respondents think schools have a duty to support the wellbeing and mental health of students, while more than half said they want more information about what their child’s school is doing to promote this.

Around three-quarters of parents revealed that they would choose a school where children are happy, even if past exam results have not been good.

YoungMinds stated that the survey results suggest that the current education system is “fundamentally unbalanced”, with an “over-emphasis on exams and too little focus on student mental health”.

A Wise Up campaign has since been launched, alongside the National Children’s Bureau, which is calling for teachers, parents and pupils to sign an open letter addressed to Theresa May, urging her to rebalance the system and make wellbeing a priority for schools.

Charity chief executive Sarah Brennan, said: “There is a mental health crisis in our classrooms.

“Children and young people today face a huge range of pressures, from exam stress to cyberbullying to finding a job when they finish education, and all the evidence suggests that the situation is getting worse.”

Brennan continued: “School are critical in helping prevent mental health problems escalating, in building wellbeing and resilience and helping young people learn the skills they need to cope in today’s world.”

She added: “Many schools are already doing excellent work, but too often they are hampered by competing pressures and a lack of resources.

“If the government is serious about tackling the crisis, it must rebalance the whole education system.”

Read more