With reports this morning from ChildLine and NSPCC suggesting that there has been a significant rise in the number of young people suffering from exam-related stress, it is more evident than ever that the way young people prepare for exams needs to change.
In February of this year, child protection campaigners NSPCC reported that exam stress saw a 200% rise on the previous year.[i] Similarly, The ChildLine National Exam Stress Survey revealed that 96% of the 1300 that completed the survey felt anxious about exams and revision, with 59% feeling pressure from their parents to do well and 64% saying they have never received any support in dealing with exams.[ii]
With so many students sitting exams this summer, these statistics are concerning for schools. The Guardian this morning reported that a spokesperson from the Department for Education said that schools have a duty to support their pupils during times of pressure, and that good schools have strong networks in place to do so.[iii]
So what could schools be doing to support revision in this stressful term?
Here are our top 4 tips for beating exam revision stress in schools this term:
All of the apps mentioned below are available through RM Unify, an online learning portal that brings together the best online educational applications, all easily accessible with one username and password.
Never to be underestimated, the revision timetable helps pupils to organise their revision, build skills of time management, and enable them to prevent panic by making the timescales they are working to clear. Some good places to go for revision timetables include TES or GetRevising.
Revision can quickly become tedious and repetitive, finding ways to keep the learning process engaging and interactive helps to keep boredom at bay. There are some great cross-curricular apps which schools, parents and pupils can invest in.
BrainPOP is a cross-curricular video resource for primary and secondary schools, where a whole range of topics are taught through animated videos, educational games, interactive quizzes, and online activities. Although some activities are paid for, explore some of the free video content here.
Another option is InstaGrok, a completely free research engine that helps students to explore any topic by navigating graphical content maps that show how ideas can connect. Have a go now and see how it could work for your pupils.
Find the learning style which works for you
Are your pupils visual, kinaesthetic or auditory learners? Do some work best watching horrible histories, acting out the Battle of Hastings in the playground, or listening to audio guides of the period?
Every learner is different so his or her revision needs will be different.
Visual learners may benefit from MindMeister, an online mind-mapping tool that enables you to create unlimited mind maps on any device.
Kinaesthetic learners work well with software such as Pixton Comic Maker or Storyboard That, where pupils can organise their thoughts by creating storyboards or comics of their research and revision into expressive narratives.
Auditory learners could benefit from apps such as Shakespeare In Bits, an app which provides fully animated productions of five of Shakespeare's most famous plays, with complete high quality audio to accompany the animated action.
Encouraging classes to work together in revision enables pupils to share their best ideas with their classmates and prevents pupils feeling they are working in isolation.
Free tools within the Google Apps for Education suite enable successful communication and collaboration between teachers and pupils during revision periods. Office 365 offers similar tools, such as OneDrive, SharePoint and Lync, all of which promote communication and collaboration even when pupils are working from home.
A recent article from the Teacher Network on The Guardian discussed the brain science behind helping primary pupils cope with exam stress. [iv] The article emphasised the need to remind pupils that they are far greater and know much more than the exam evaluates. The idea behind this is to reinforce their confidence in what they have learned. Many schools have taken to this idea, as highlighted by the school letter, which went viral at the beginning of this week, praising pupils before their exams.[v] But how can you replicate this throughout the whole year? Apps such as MyStickers, Vivo Miles, Pupil Reward Points all function to record and recognise students' achievements.
Exams will always be stressful and it is unlikely that this well ever change but schools can strive to provide the resources and applications to make pupils as confident in their knowledge as possible.
If you would like to find out more information about any of the above apps or how using RM Unify can make accessing these educational resources seamless, please visit www.rm.com/rmunify or email firstname.lastname@example.org.