Counsellors on stand-by as Scots pupils receive exam results

John Swinney meets Skills Development Scotland (SDS) careers advisers the day before exam results were published. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL
John Swinney meets Skills Development Scotland (SDS) careers advisers the day before exam results were published. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL
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Counsellors are on standby to deal with a spike in calls from children worried about their exam results as hundreds of thousands of school pupils across Scotland receive news of their grades today.

The Childline service said it was preparing to offer support to pupils suffering from exam-related stress on results day, warning that some have experienced panic attacks and depression in the past.

Almost 140,000 pupils across the country are set to receive their grades for National and Higher exams they sat in June, with many needing to meet certain expectations to get into their chosen university.

All candidates will receive their results in the post, but many will learn of their grades by text message or e-mail if they have online accounts with exam body the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

Last year Childline reported a rise in the number of telephone counselling sessions relating to exam worries, with more than 3,100 taking place across the UK.

Around 150 of these involved pupils from Scotland, an increase of more than 40 per cent on 2015-16. Young girls were five times more likely than boys to seek help.

Specially-trained counsellors at Scotland’s two Childline bases in Glasgow and Aberdeen are expecting to speak to pupils by phone, email or through its one-to-one web chat service.

The charity is urging parents and teachers to remind children it is “not the end of the world” if they fail to earn the grades they were hoping for.

Joanna Barrett, policy manager at the charity NSPCC Scotland, which operates Childline, said pupils should try to remain “calm and positive” regardless of their results.

She said: “We’ve heard from pupils who’ve had panic attacks and severe stress and fear over exams and potentially not getting the right grades. This can lead to depression, excessive crying, low self-esteem or even suicidal thoughts.”

The Scottish Government also operates a free national helpline offering advice, information and support for young people and their parents during the exam results period.

The 0808 100 8000 number, which went live yesterday, puts pupils in touch with qualified careers advisers who can run through the options if they did not get the grades they needed.

Last year a record number of pupils from Scotland secured a university place on exams results day, with 28,300 confirming their position on the course they hoped for. The Higher pass rate dipped slightly from 79.2 per cent to 77.2 per cent following the introduction of new exams.

Education secretary John Swinney claimed yesterday the government’s latest batch of reforms would result in pupils spending less time being tested. Despite some exams becoming longer, he insisted that there would be a better “balance” between coursework and testing.