Mentioning exams exacerbates pressure, Ofsted chief warns

As reported by the BBC, the head of Ofsted has warned against talking about exams in front of pupils, as it can boost anxiety

Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, has warned that even mentioning exams to pupils piles on the pressure.

Ahead of this week’s release of the new Ofsted inspection framework Spielman stated that, as pupils prepare for their SATs and GCSEs, talking about them can create anxiety in pupils.

She suggested that primary schools should conduct tests without pupils even being aware of it.

“Good primary schools manage to run key stage tests often with children not even knowing that they’re being tested,” she said.

“Seven-year-olds [think], ‘oh we did a maths booklet today, great’.

“I was in a primary school not long ago where I saw something that did concern me, where the head was going around clapping the Year 6s on the shoulder, saying: ‘So are you feeling OK about the test, is everything going well for you?’

“And I thought actually maybe that is well-meaning, but maybe that’s actually subliminally encouraging children to feel anxious.”

Spielman said this amid growing concerns that schools’ focus on exam results is harming children’s mental health.

“Clearly testing happens in every system throughout the world,” she added.

“It only becomes a big deal for children if people make it so for them.”

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