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Help students with exam-related stress to speak up

3 minute read
By Smoothwall

Exam periods can induce extreme stress and anxiety for many children and young people across the UK. In this article, we look at how school DSLs can easily check-in on how their students are feeling and help those with exam or assessment-related stress to speak up and receive early support.


The stress students experience during the build up to exams has been widely publicised. In 2022, the Association of School and College Leaders reported that 80% of Headteachers witnessed a noticeable increase in exam stress and anxiety among students compared to pre-pandemic years. 

During exam periods, or when general assessments take place, students can feel overwhelmed by the weight of living up to perceived expectations. This can in turn, affect eating or sleeping habits, or in some cases, lead to feelings of depression. 

The challenge for DSLs

For DSLs, identifying individuals who may be feeling the pressure can be a challenge. Students may keep exam-related worries to themselves, or not know who to talk to. They might not recognise the way that exams or assessments are impacting their own behaviours and interactions with others. Stress symptoms might also manifest at home making it difficult for DSLs to have full visibility of any concerns.

Whilst schools recognise the need to place more resource and focus on factors that might impact student wellbeing, such as exam stress, there isn’t a standard approach to how it can be identified and addressed. Some schools support students by offering drop-in sessions where they can share their feelings with a designated staff member. Whilst this method may suit some, others might not feel comfortable coming forward. 

For time-poor DSLs with many different plates to spin, it can also feel impossible to accommodate multiple one-to-one sessions, despite their best efforts. Therefore, DSLs need a better tool in their armour to quickly identify students that need help.  

Overcome the challenge with Smoothwall Pulse

Smoothwall Pulse, a revolutionary student wellbeing app, can help DSLs to quickly identify which students need assistance with exam or assessment related stress so that they can receive much quicker intervention and support. It’s a user-friendly, revolutionary app-based software solution that provides students with easy access to a weekly 60-second wellbeing ‘check-in.’ Using the app, they can easily report on their wellbeing by answering five simple questions and reach out for in-person support from a designated staff member. 

In addition, it provides DSLs with comprehensive insights and trends regarding wider factors impacting student wellbeing at an individual, cohort/group and whole-school level. This allows for wellbeing concerns that were previously invisible to be made visible, through a user-friendly dashboard.

Katie Thomas, Pastoral Support Manager and Alternate DSL at Westley Middle School, shares her experience of using Smoothwall Pulse: “Previously we were unable to reach out on a one-to-one basis to every student and understand how they were feeling. Smoothwall Pulse allows us to do this easily, on a weekly basis. I feel that we are much better equipped to deal with wellbeing issues that arise now. We are noticing concerns we were previously unaware of.”

DSLs need a more effective method to quickly identify students who may be suffering with exam-related stress and wider wellbeing concerns. Smoothwall Pulse is a helping hand for DSLs and gives students an easy way to reach out for help to a nominated staff member. Crucially, this means students receive much faster intervention and early support.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how Smoothwall Pulse can help you to identify students that might be feeling the weight of exam pressure, or too afraid to share wellbeing concerns, click here

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