With around a million teenagers set to find out their A Level and GCSE results in the coming weeks, a new study reveals the impact of exam pressure on anxiety amongst older teens.

A poll of parents (1) commissioned by specialist schools’ insurer, Zurich Municipal found the biggest cause of anxiety for children aged 15-17 is school related concerns including exams, with over half (57%) of parents citing this as the root of their child’s worry.

Anxiety levels amongst 15–17-year-olds have risen dramatically following the onset of the pandemic. Just over three in 10 (31%) parents with children in this age bracket reported their child as being anxious prior the Covid-19 crisis. Fast forward two years, and this has risen to over half (51%) of parents saying the same.

Parents of 15–17-year-olds who report their child as being anxious say this has manifested in a number of different behaviours. Nearly half (45%) of parents have noticed their child being more irritable or short tempered.

Other symptoms include their child becoming withdrawn (40%), being unable to fall asleep or waking up frequently in the night (34%), going online or using their phones more (28%) and self-harming (18%).

For parents and carers of young people receiving their results, the Our Safer Schools Initiative, led by safeguarding experts Ineqe Safeguarding Group in partnership with Zurich Municipal is sharing some tips on how best to give support:

Alix Bedford, risk expert at Zurich Municipal said:
“We know parents and carers are concerned about the significant upturn in anxiety that young people are experiencing. However, around one in four (24%) parents of 15–17-year-olds say they do not feel equipped to deal with any of their child’s anxieties. Mental health challenges are real and have a direct impact on peoples’ lives, including children. Exams can be a major trigger for anxiety and stress, whether it’s sitting them or getting the results. We hope this guidance will go some way to helping parents support their children during this challenging time.”

Colin Stitt, Head of Safer Schools at INEQE Safeguarding Group said:
“By following a step-by-step timeline of practical, supportive and achievable actions that parents and carers can implement in the key times surrounding exam results day, we can create a safety net for young people as they approach, dive into and deal with any feelings of uncertainty around their future.”

Tips for dealing with Exam results – Taken from the latest Safer Schools Article

Waiting for Exam Results: How to Help Young People Prepare and Process

The Week Before Exam Results Day:

  • Talk and Listen. While waiting for exam results, a young person will likely be going through a range of emotions and – without a conversational outlet – bottling them up. Encourage open conversation in which they can express these emotions.
  • Plan Distractions. Although we strongly encourage keeping the conversation open, try to occasionally take their mind off the incoming results with some fun things to do.

The Day Before Exam Results Day

  • Be Present. Even if you can’t physically be with the young person in your care at every moment, make sure they know you’re around should they need you.
  • Offer an Activity. Ask if the young person in your care would like to do anything in particular on the day or evening before exam results. Come up with a list of suggestions you think they’d like.

Exam Results Day

  • Stay Cool, Calm and Collected. You may feel like you’re just as much of a nervous wreck as the young person in your care, but try not to show it!
  • React Carefully and Conscientiously. Remember, your words matter. At times like these, the reactions of a parent or carer can be a huge deal to a young person.
  • Discuss Social Media Spin. Remind the young person in your care that, despite how it may seem to them when looking on social media, many people will have mixed emotions about their grades.
  • Healthy Sharing Habits. Over-celebrating online may make friends or strangers on social media who are disappointed with their results, feel isolated, sad, disappointed in themselves etc.
  • Suggest Celebrating, No Matter the Results. Even if the results weren’t what everyone was hoping for, consider planning an event or activity to acknowledge the hard work and effort put in across the school year.

The Days and Weeks After Exam Results Day

  • Keep Talking and Listening. Again, keep encouraging open dialogue by a) being as present as possible (or having another Trusted Adult who is) and b) asking open questions and giving plenty of time to listen.
  • Mention Next Steps. If exam results day didn’t bring the results they were hoping for, ask the young person in your care if they’d like to discuss other options and next steps.

The Safer Schools App was launched by Zurich Municipal and online safeguarding experts, Ineqe Safeguarding Group in 2018. Available free for schools insured with Zurich Municipal, the award-winning Safer Schools App, resources, and training offer critical advice regarding image sharing, online bullying safer gaming and much more. For more information and resources including tips on talking to children about how to deal with feelings of worry and build resilience visit: www.oursaferschools.co.uk

Third City / [email protected]
Emily Goodbrand Dillon / 07719 939 901 / [email protected]
Victoria Dickson / 07879 815 308 / [email protected]

(1) Research conducted by Censuswide amongst 1273 UK adults who are parents of 4-17 year between 18-23 March 2022

Zurich UK
Zurich UK provides a suite of general insurance and life insurance products to retail and corporate customers. We supply personal, commercial and local authority insurance through a number of distribution channels, and offer a range of protection policies available online and through financial intermediaries for the retail market and via employee benefit consultants for the corporate market. Based in a number of locations across the UK – with large sites in Birmingham, Farnborough, Glasgow, London, Swindon and Whiteley - Zurich employs approximately 4,500 people in the UK. https://www.zurich.co.uk/

Zurich Globally
Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer that serves its customers in global and local markets. With about 56,000 employees, it provides a wide range of property and casualty, and life insurance products and services in more than 210 countries and territories. Zurich’s customers include individuals, small businesses, and mid-sized and large companies, as well as multinational corporations. The Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, where it was founded in 1872. The holding company, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd (ZURN), is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and has a level I American Depositary Receipt (ZURVY) program, which is traded over-the-counter on OTCQX. Further information about Zurich is available at www.zurich.com.