Irish students have much higher levels of anxiety when it comes to schoolwork and exams compared to other developed countries, according to a report published for the Department of Education.
The report, issued by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), revealed that almost half of Irish students feel nervous or stressed about exams. A quarter of teens said they can feel physically unwell when thinking about exams.
The report played a huge part in the then Minister for Education Joe McHugh's decision to cancel the Leaving Cert. It raised concerns about the mental wellbeing of students around the country. According to the report, one in three students said they had suffered with a mental health disorder.
It warned that it would pose “significant risks for heightened anxiety” if the Leaving Cert were to go ahead. This was due to the number of potential disruptions associated with changing exam formats and lengths. Furthermore, there were worries about safety and a sense of unfairness around access to resources since schools had closed.
The report took into account that some Irish students would cope well with the given situation. However, it reported that this needed to be balanced with the risks for vulnerable students who would find the experience “anxiety-provoking” or “overwhelming”. The report ultimately advised that the summer State exams “should not be advanced”.
A spokesman for the Department of Education said it is engaging with education partners on measures to be taken. These agreements are planned to be finalised by the end of July.