New figures from Childline show rising anxiety levels about exam results amongst children and young people

The return of school exams has seen Childline delivering more counselling sessions to students concerned about their results.
“Our counsellors are always here to talk to young people and provide a non-judgemental listening ear, whether that be on the phone or online.”“Our counsellors are always here to talk to young people and provide a non-judgemental listening ear, whether that be on the phone or online.”
“Our counsellors are always here to talk to young people and provide a non-judgemental listening ear, whether that be on the phone or online.”

The pandemic meant that GCSE and A-Level exams were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 – which also kept students at home for months, before returning this year.

The return to school this last year has meant Childline has seen an increase in counselling sessions with many students worried about their exam results.

In 2021/22 (April 21 – March 22) Childline counsellors delivered 781 counselling sessions to children and young people with concerns about exam result worries, a 30% rise from the previous year.

In every month since January this year, counselling sessions about exam result worries were higher than in the same period in 2020/21, when the country was in the midst of the pandemic. The most took place in June (106), tripling the same month in 2020.

When talking to Childline counsellors about receiving their results this month, children shared fears about the impact of the pandemic on their learning, and the fact they were sitting exams for the first time would hugely affect how they performed.

The children talked to counsellors about disappointing parents and how their families will react when they find out their results. Many also shared worries about their future career and getting into their chosen University, as well as general worries about what their results might be, with some saying they are concerned they will ‘feel like a failure’.

A 17-year-old girl told a Childline counsellor: “I'm really anxious about getting my exam results. I don't think I will get the marks I need to get into my chosen university. I think I've done so badly. Before the exam, I had a panic attack and had difficulties breathing. I'm so afraid of not getting the right grades. I'm terrified that I've messed it all up and I'll ruin my future. I don't know how to cope"

Childline director, Shaun Friel, said: “The Childline statistics we are releasing today show that during the last year we have seen a big increase in the number of counselling sessions we’ve delivered because of exam result worries.

“Children have had to contend with a huge amount because of the pandemic, and it’s no surprise that with exams returning to normal for the first time this year, we’re seeing a rise in anxiety levels.

“Children have had to contend with a huge amount because of the pandemic, and it’s no surprise that with exams returning to normal for the first time this year, we’re seeing a rise in anxiety levels.

“We hear from lots of children who are concerned about their results and its really important they know that there is someone they can talk to who will listen to their worries. This could be a teacher, careers advisor, parent, carer or Childline.

“We hear from lots of children who are concerned about their results and its really important they know that there is someone they can talk to who will listen to their worries. This could be a teacher, careers advisor, parent, carer or Childline."

For more information visit the Childline website.

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