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Supporting children through exams

Throughout this spring and summer many pupils will be sitting exams. These include GCSEs, AS and A levels, T levels and more. Younger children in year six will sit SATS.

Tests and exams can be challenging for all school pupils as well as their parents and carers. Over the last two years exams haven’t gone ahead due to disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic so for many pupils this will be a new and possibly daunting experience. 


Pupils in year six will take the key stage 2 (KS2) national curriculum test – known as SATS. These tests are used to measure school performance and ensure that pupils have the support they need to move into secondary school. 

SATS have been suspended for the last two years due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic but are going ahead this year in order to help the Government understand the full impact of the pandemic, and identify where additional support may be required.

If you have a child in year 6, at the end of KS2 they will take tests in English grammar, punctuation and spelling, English reading and mathematics.

Visit the Government’s Education Hub to find out everything you need to know about SATs

Other qualifications

Arrangements for exams and assessments are a little different this year from other years when exams have gone ahead. This is to take account of the disruption to education caused by the pandemic.

Ofqual have published a useful guide to exams which explains the support that is in place for pupils taking exams and assessments this year. It also provides other information about this year’s arrangements.

Advice for parents

Your child may experience a lot of stress as they work through their exams. Some may appear to take it within stride, others may show visible signs of the pressure they are under to perform well. 

It can also be very difficult for parents as you understandably want them to do well, and put in the maximum effort. Parents can feel an overwhelming need to get involved, and ensure that their children are preparing as effectively as possible. But remember, every pupil will approach exams in their own way and have their own methods and approaches to revision.

As a parent there is a lot you can do to help your children get through this period. Here are some tips to help you enable a positive learning environment for your teen.

  • Ensure your child has a quiet and comfortable space to revise but also accept that some people like background noise too such as TV or music. If you can’t provide this then explore other options such as libraries or someone else’s home
  • Establish a routine that provides plenty of time for revision. That may require making temporary changes to your normal routine
  • Expand your usual boundaries – be lenient about chores and other household rules such as tidiness
  • Help them prepare for exams by being organised yourself – know the exam timetable, get equipment ready in advance
  • Provide healthy and nutritious food and ensure plenty of sleep
  • Stay calm, positive and reassuring
  • Offer help and give praise
  • Allow them time to play sports and do other outdoor activities – this promotes wellbeing and will help to keep energy levels high
  • Don’t be afraid to contact your school if you are concerned. Most schools will have learning mentors who are there to support your child during the exam period.
  • It may help to chat to other parents to find out how they are dealing with the situation within their family life.

Find out more

The Young Minds Parents Helpline offers vital advice and guidance to parents/carers who are concerned about their child’s mental health. You can contact them via phone, email or their webchat (9.30am – 4pm, Monday – Friday)

NHS.UK offers excellent guidance on how to help your child bear exam stress

Family Lives provides targeted early intervention and crisis support to families. You can chat to other parents on their forums, contact them online via thier live chat service, email [email protected] or call the helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker. If your teen wants to talk to someone about how they are feeling, they can text Shout 85258 for support.

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