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Reformed A-level exams causing more stress to students, teachers say

PUBLISHED: 06:00 15 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:54 15 August 2019

Norfolk students collecting their A-Level results.
 A survey by the National Education Union suggests the exams have become more stressful for students following reforms. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norfolk students collecting their A-Level results. A survey by the National Education Union suggests the exams have become more stressful for students following reforms. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

One of the most nail-biting days of the year for Norfolk students has been made even more stressful by exam reforms, a union has claimed.

John Fisher, cabinet member for children's services at Norfolk County Council. Photo: Broadland District CouncilJohn Fisher, cabinet member for children's services at Norfolk County Council. Photo: Broadland District Council

At schools and colleges across the county, teenagers will today be opening envelopes to see how they performed in this summer's A-level exams.

But a National Education Union survey has revealed teachers' misgivings about A-level reforms which came into effect in 2017.

Of those polled, 55pc said the changes had negatively affected students' mental health and 37pc felt the new courses - which contain less coursework and are now only formally assessed at the end - less accurately reflected students' abilities.

A third (34pc) also felt the new courses had caused a decrease in student engagement, with those surveyed saying students were left stressed out, overwhelmed and demoralised by the large amounts of content in the courses.

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The survey results came as the NSPCC revealed its Childline service had delivered 1,414 counselling sessions to children and teenagers in 2018/19 - an increase of more than 50pc over the past four years.

One-fifth of these sessions took place in August, when A-Level and GCSE results are released.

In what can be a very stressful time for teenagers, Sarah Lambley, NSPCC community fundraising manager for Norfolk, cautioned parents against adding to the pressure.

"Fears of failure, not achieving top grades or not getting into a chosen university are just some of the worries that can trigger stress, anxiety and other serious mental health problems," she said.

"Teenagers can sometimes feel that their entire future lies with their results and the NSPCC wants to reassure them that that's not the case. The most important thing is talking to someone they can trust and getting advice on what to do next."

*We will have live coverage on our website during Thursday on the A-level results.

Don't miss Friday's paper for a special pull-out with reports, pictures, results and analysis.

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