A survey has found that primary school children are feeling the strains of SATs tests and the pressure from pushy parents. The study revealed that swathes of 11-year-olds are left 'stressed and nervous' by their parents' expectations, and tired out from having little free time.
The youngsters claimed their primary school years were ruined by feelings of 'anxiety and inadequacy' due to exams and parental expectations of their performance.
Despite this, most were in favour of SATs, claiming the tests helped them to learn. The research, commissioned by the Wellcome Trust and conducted by researchers at Queen's University, Belfast, polled around 1,000 children on their views of the testing system. Its findings raised concerns about youngsters' mental health in the face of parental pressure to succeed.
Statements made by children to researchers included: 'My parents put pressure on me so much that I have a headache.'
'It affects my home life if I get a bad mark in a test as my parents are angry.' 'My family push me too much and my friends get all nervous and angry and don't want to be friends anymore.'
The report states: 'The impact of science assessment on friendships and home life was largely negative. Fewer than one in five children recorded any positive effect. The main reasons for the negative impact of assessment on children's friendships were related to competitiveness, deteriorating relationships, negative emotions and bullying.'
Most parents had no idea of the stress their children were under, with just 13 per cent agreeing that youngsters were under pressure.
The study concluded that teachers, parents and the Government 'must acknowledge that personal development and confidence of children can be affected by assessment regimes, and that attempts must by made to minimise the problem.'
Education Secretary Michael Gove is set to review the SATs testing system, but has said it will remain unchanged for 2011.
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