Safeguarding issues to look out for during exam season

Exam season can be a challenging time for students, and with the added stress of still playing catch-up from the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for teachers to be aware of the safeguarding issues that may arise. 

According to a recent report by the NSPCC, there has been a 10% increase in counselling sessions about exam stress since 2020, highlighting the need for educators to pay attention to the mental health and well-being of their pupils.

One of the main concerns during exam season is the risk of self-harm and suicide, as students may feel overwhelmed by pressure and expectations. It’s essential for teachers to be aware of the signs and to know how to respond appropriately. 

Some of the warning signs of self-harm may include changes in behaviour or mood, unexplained injuries or scars, and withdrawal from social activities or academic work. If a teacher notices any of these signs, it’s crucial to take them seriously, report them efficiently using safeguarding data management software, and seek support from mental health professionals or designated safeguarding leads.

Another safeguarding issue to look out for during exam season is exam anxiety, which can manifest as physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, or dizziness. Students may also experience sleep difficulties, irritability, or difficulty concentrating, which can affect their overall performance and well-being. 

Teachers can help to alleviate exam anxiety by offering support and guidance on study strategies, relaxation techniques, and time-management skills. Encouraging a healthy balance between studying and self-care can also help students to feel more confident and in control of their academic goals.

Finally, it’s essential to watch out for any online safety risks that students may face during exam season. With the increasing use of digital resources and online learning platforms, students may be exposed to cyberbullying, harassment, or harmful content that can affect their mental health and self-esteem. Teachers can promote safe online behaviour by educating students on the risks and benefits of social media, providing guidance on privacy settings and responsible use, and encouraging open communication about any concerns or incidents that may arise.

As it is such a challenging time for students, and it’s essential for teachers to be vigilant about the safeguarding issues that may arise. Recognising the warning signs of self-harm, exam anxiety, and online safety risks can help educators to provide appropriate support and interventions to promote the well-being and success of their students. By working together with mental health professionals, safeguarding leads, and parents, we can ensure that our students have the resilience and resources they need to thrive academically and mentally.