More exams will lessen students’ stress, says UK School Standards Minister

Apparently MORE exams will lessen mental health problems in students. Source: Shutterstock.

The UK’s School Standards Minister Nick Gibb has made a rather bold claim that increasing the number of exams students take will help solve increasing rates of mental health issues in young people.

In a U-turn from the government’s recent reforms to GCSEs where the modular elements were removed, Gibb said speaking to MPs this week that students should begin regular examination as soon as they start secondary school.

“The way to deal with exam pressures is to make sure that young people are taking exams earlier on in their school career – the end of Year 7, the end of Year 8 and so on – so they’re used to taking exams,” Tes reported Gibb asserted.

As concerns grow over children’s mental health and the effects of school on their wellbeing, Gibb refused to accept the government’s reforms to the GCSE system could have had something to do with it.

“I don’t think it’s right to say that reforms to the curriculum are the cause of young people’s anxiety and mental health pressure,” he said.

He added that by removing modules at GCSE level, pupils currently had to sit for fewer exams, which puts less pressure on them if they have to resit.

Rather than exams being the main cause of stress for students, however, Gibb argued social media and celebrity culture are the main offenders.

“There are a whole raft of mental health pressures on young people that didn’t apply when I was at school. Exam pressure has always been part of being at school. Nothing we’ve done has made it worse,” he claimed.

Many teachers disagree with Gibb’s statement

A large number of teachers and parents were appalled when they heard the claim, taking to Twitter to express their disapproval, claiming more exams will have the opposite effect.

Not everyone disagrees with Gibb

However, not all educators have dismissed the idea. Many people can see where Gibb is coming from, claiming the exposure to exams will help students get used to the pressure.

One Twitter user pointed out that, much like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), when exposing young people to the thing which causes them stress, each exposure will be a little less painful than the last, eventually lessening their negative emotions towards it.

However, she concluded this is no “fun” way to go through education.

The UK government is currently trying to address the growing numbers of mental health issues in the country’s schools. Plans, including appointing a senior member of staff in each school to work as a mental health lead, were laid out in December in the government’s Mental Health Green Paper.

The details are yet to be confirmed.

“We’re tackling a problem that hasn’t been tackled before,” Tes reported Gibb said. “This is an ambitious Green Paper, tackling a problem of modern society that we, as a government, are determined to tackle.”

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