Yorkshire’s schoolchildren are losing sleep over pressures at school, a study has revealed, as their mental health is impacted by exams, homework and school stress.
Nearly half of parents thought their children are under too much pressure and two out of five said their child gets too much homework.
Dr Richard Vautrey, a Leeds GP and chair of the British Medical Association's General Practitioners Committee said: “Whilst most schools have a good awareness of the impact of stress on the mental health of their students, and provide additional support when needed, GPs also see children suffering from stress related problems that can often be related to the pressures of school work. This is particularly the case during the lead up to key examinations.
“This is why it’s crucial to invest more in mental health services for children to ensure they can be seen in a timely way when referred.”
A third of parents said schools expected too much of them when it came to helping children, according to the survey by British toy company TP Toys.
Parents expressed their concern over their children’s work-life balance, with some saying the demand was too much, especially on young children.
Leeds mum Danielle Louise Smith said: “My six year old gets one book every week and two sheets of homework. He hates it when we ask him to do it and I hate pressuring him to.”
John Law, also from Leeds, agreed, saying his 12-year-old daughter had too much homework. “My daughter complains a lot. She doesn't seem to get time to be a kid, even weekends are taken up by it. I think they do enough work at school and should be left to do kids stuff at home.”
A total of 14 per cent of parents even experienced aggression from their child while helping them do school tasks, according to the survey, which was conducted across the UK.
Children in Sheffield spent an average of an hour a day doing homework or reading with parents on a weekday, while in Leeds it was 45 minutes.
More than a third of Yorkshire parents said exploratory play was the best way children should learn.
Emma Bearman who runs Playful Anywhere, a Yorkshire non-profit that runs programmes and popups that help children and adults be creative and enjoy themselves, said play had tangible benefits and was an important a part of the day.
“Play is getting squeezed out of schools at a time when school and workdays are getting longer. It’s hard for everyone - children and parents,” she said.
Schools in Yorkshire were taking different approaches to tackling the issue.
Pete Quinn, whose son is in Year 8 at Millthorpe School in York said: “The school is doing a great job of demystifying mental health, making it clear that tests are not about the kids but about the school. The mental health champions network is very public and destigmatising.”
This comes after Ofsted announced schools were no longer required to set homework, saying it was now up to teachers to decide whether it was necessary for their pupils.
Inspectors will no longer assess how homework is being done under the new framework, which came in at the start of September.