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23rd May 2022

The Stress of ‘Ghost Exams’

17th Jun 2021

As the Covid fall out continues to impact our children and young people, we now find ourselves at the end of another school year in which our teenagers find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Unsure of what assessment processes look like, and with the absence of the usual school exam period to signal the end of the term; what must that feel like for our young people? Whilst it is easy to assume that an absence of exams would fill them with joy, in many cases it is, in fact, quite the opposite.

The lack of exam period has quite literally swept the rug from under their feet – again. A symbol that signifies the end of the school year and the start of their summer. A process they have been schooled to work towards for many years of their educational life. An assessment that has always been instilled into them that ‘decides your future’, has now been removed and replaced with something new, something untested, something they weren’t prepared for.

A myriad of feelings are swirling around our children, and we can all relate, even as adults, to how the fear of the unknown can affect us. Not only are they left feeling unsure whether all the work they have put in over last few years will be recognised, but further they are left wondering about what the longer-term impact upon their future may be.

It’s perhaps one thing to say that they are all in the same position as their peers but actually when it comes to jobs in the future, it is not solely their peers they will be in competition with. A fact they are all too well aware of. A fear of forever being labelled ‘the covid generation’ and being seen to have ‘had it easy’ by skipping the exam period is a real worry for many and causing both frustration and anxiety.

As a parent, none of this is either our fault or something we can resolve for them. But an understanding towards the confusion and displacement they must be feeling right now can go a long way to assisting them through.

Supporting our children through change and uncertainty is sadly something we have all become only too familiar with in the last 18 months. But knowing we are there to support them whatever happens next can make such a difference to them. Their anger, their frustration and their fear may be what we are seeing right now but beneath all that is a generation of young people that just want the world set straight again on its axis.

Let us be kind to both them and to their teachers but also to ourselves as parents as we navigate our way through this latest stage:

How can you help?

  • Support their mental wellbeing by listening to worries and stress.
  • Chat to them. Ask open questions. This will give them the opportunity to air any problems, worries or stresses they have and will give you the chance to reassure them and boost their self- esteem.
  • Pay attention to their feelings and worries. They may be feeling disappointed, pressured or that they have failed in some way. Attention is key to helping young people cope and to feel heard.
  • Be flexible. Chores may have to take a back seat for a while as you support your child.
  • Make sure they get enough sleep and exercise. Have a look at some apps and websites together that could potentially help, such as yoga and mindfulness apps.


Written by, Lucy Howard, BulliesOut Digital Communications Officer


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