The end is near

The end of the summer term is near and so too, we’ve been advised, is the wait for the published list of approved qualifications from the Department for Education (DfE), which we are told is expected at the end of July. Better late than never – or, indeed, September as was the position last year.

Beyond the day to day challenges of the classroom and delays from the DfE, there have been further difficulties such as the ongoing freeze on schools spending. Schools remain resilient and incredibly resourceful, however, these are qualities which surely have their own breaking point.

We’ve also seen the issue of exams stress come to the fore with the education secretary discussing the matter in parliament, stating that this problem ‘isn’t new’ and highlighting the government’s action through the ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’ green paper published back in December.

Amongst the reasons proposed for this increase in exam pressure is the introduction of the reformed GCSE content and its effects on learners. Additionally, awareness and understanding of mental health issues is, thankfully, improving but has led to the sharp increase in mental health referrals in English schools. The government has committed to investing an additional £300m to provide quicker Mental Health support to children, but there is much we can do in the interim to help alleviate our learners’ stress.

Whilst we can petition and press for less pressure on our young people, on a more practical level we can prepare our learners for their exams, and support them wherever possible. Whether this is through exam preparation, or mental health interventions such as mindfulness, we can do the best we can to support our young people. We have some links and additional resources from our supporting students manage their mental wellbeing and exam work load page or you can explore our qualifications suitable for PSHE in including stress and mental health awareness.

We mustn’t forget our colleagues too, as they are on the front line supporting young people. This recent blog by Schools Week’s Laura McInerney provides out some support, rationale and resources to help out those who are in frequent contact with these issues.

So, best of luck to your learners and thank you for your efforts in ensuring that our young people can get the best opportunity to progress in their lives.