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Children's worries over SAT exams

Published 11/05/2015

Some 68% of children admit feeling pressured at exam time, a poll shows
Some 68% of children admit feeling pressured at exam time, a poll shows

Children as young as 10 are smoking cigarettes, gorging on junk food and drinking energy drinks for breakfast to prepare for their exams, new research has found.

A poll of more than 1,000 youngsters who took Key Stage Two SATs last year found eight had smoked on the morning of their tests, while 37 ate chocolate and 30 drank the high-sugar beverages.

Nine children admitted eating a pasty or sausage roll for breakfast on the morning of their exam, while 19 said they ate crisps, 11 had sweets and 45 tucked into biscuits.

The survey also revealed s ome 55% of youngsters feared getting bad results would affect their future lives.

Three in five children (60%) said they had been told by teachers that SATs were important for the school league tables, while 68% admitted feeling pressured at exam time, according to the research by Kellogg's.

Meanwhile, a second poll commissioned by the company of more than 1,000 parents found 20% believed their child was too nervous to eat before SATs exams, while one in eight said their youngster had refused food.

Almost a fifth of parents (18%) said their child's behaviour got worse during SATs week, and 74% felt their children were under more exam pressure than themselves when they were a similar age.

Children reported not being able to concentrate due to being nervous (20%), not being able to eat because of nerves (12%) and feeling hungry due to skipping a meal (14%), according to the survey carried out by Opinion Matters.

Some 22% of children reported losing sleep during their SATs, but the figure rose to 59% among children who admitted skipping breakfast.

The findings come as thousands of Year Six pupils in England prepare to take their Key Stage Two SATs this week.

Child psychologist Dr Claire Halsey said: "It's troubling that children are expressing so many worries about their exams.

"It's natural to experience some pressure to perform before any test, even at age 10 and 11, but these results show that SATs have become more than a little nerve-wracking."

John Coe, of the National Association for Primary Education, said: "A decent breakfast should set children up for success in their exams, and eating breakfast with friends at a breakfast club - and calming each other's nerves about the tests - is a happy way of meeting the challenge to come."

Kellogg's is donating 44,500 breakfasts to 300 school breakfast clubs to help children prepare for their SATs.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: " No young person should be stressed when taking tests.

"Schools are responsible for preparing young people for the Key Stage Two assessments and should have strong pastoral support in place to help pupils deal with any worries they might have throughout the year."

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