Childline Advice Over Teenage Exam Fears

August surge for anxious Northern Ireland teenagers reaching out to Childline with exam results fears. 

*  1,298 counselling sessions delivered to children and teenagers in 2017/18 – a 15% rise on last year.

*  Almost a quarter of these took place in August as young people receive their GCSE and A-Level results.

Childline is urging young people in Northern Ireland worried about their GCSE and A-Level grades to get in touch and not suffer in silence. In 2017/18 across the UK, Childline delivered 1,298 counselling sessions to children and teenagers apprehensive about their exam results and what they do next – a rise of 15% over the last year.

Over the past two years 70 children from Northern Ireland were counselled by Childline – 38 in 2017-18 and 32 the previous year.

Across the UK last year, concern peaked in August 2017, with just under a quarter of all counselling sessions being delivered during the month when GCSE and A-Level results are published.

Figures released today by the NSPCC-supported service also showed that girls are much more willing to reach out for help, receiving 74% of all counselling sessions delivered by Childline on this issue.

Young people told counsellors they were very worried about their results stopping them from going to university, with many expressing concerns about sharing them with their parents and teachers.

Others said they were struggling to cope and that the build up of pressure as they waited for their grades was making them feel stressed and depressed.

One boy who contacted Childline said: “I’m feeling really depressed and stressed out at the moment. I’m worried about getting my A-level results. I don’t think I will get the marks I need to get into my chosen university, and there’s loads of pressure on me from my teachers to do well. I don’t have anyone to talk to about it because I don’t want to let anyone down.”

Mairead Monds, Childline manager for Northern Ireland, said: “We know that lots of young people struggle with the pressure of exam results season.  The desire to get good grades and secure university places can feel like a lot to bear.

“We are also aware that once teenagers have got their results they can feel overwhelmed by what comes next, especially if they don’t get the grades they were hoping for.

“It’s important they share how they are feeling and discuss their options with a friend, trusted adult or Childline.”

Dame Esther Rantzen, Founder and President of Childline said: “From personal experience I remember how terrified I was while I was waiting for my exam results and then how heartbroken I felt when they were not as good as they should have been. At that moment, I felt that my hopes and dreams were shattered and that it was the end of the world.

“As it turned out, I was wrong so I would like to remind young people that whatever happens with their exam results, there will be plenty of opportunities for them to go on and do very well in their lives. We all have different strengths and qualities and exams are only a small part of what makes you who you are.

“During the exam result period it is important that young people feel very supported by their family, friends and school. They should always remember however, that Childline is there for them if they don’t know who else they can talk to. Don’t hesitate to contact us, if it matters to you then it matters to us.”

Childline  advice for young people:

*  Don’t panic if you don’t get the results you were hoping for.

*  You may have to make some tough decisions but remember you always have options and you can get help.

*  Everyone is different so try not to compare your results to your friends or classmates.

*  If you’re disappointed with your results it can help to talk to a teacher or someone you trust about how you’re feeling.

Advice from the NSPCC for parents and carers:

*  Try not to place pressure on your children to gain certain grades

*  Your child may find it hard to talk to you about their results so be patient and supportive until they feel ready to open up about how they feel.

*  Encourage your child to take their time to think about what they want to do next. There’s no need to rush into a decision straightaway.

*  Help them think about their choices by writing down a list of pros and cons for each of their options.

Children and young people can contact Childline for free, confidential support and advice, 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or at: