Education & Family

Children as young as 10 'smoke before exams', survey suggests

Smoking Image copyright Thinkstock

Children as young as 10 are smoking cigarettes, eating junk food and drinking energy drinks for breakfast before sitting exams, a study says.

A survey of more than 1,000 children who took Sats tests last year found eight smoked on the morning of their tests, while 37 ate chocolate.

The poll by market research firm Opinion Matters also found 55% feared bad results would affect their future.

Year six pupils across England will sit their Sats tests this week.

According to the survey from Kellogg's, 30 children had high-sugar drinks for breakfast on the morning of their exam, while 45 had biscuits, 19 had crisps, and nine had a pasty or sausage roll.

More than two thirds (68%) admitted feeling pressured at exam time, the research indicated.

Exam pressure

Meanwhile, a second poll carried out by the research firm of more than 1,000 parents found 20% believed their child was too nervous to eat before SATs exams, while one in eight said their child had refused food.

Almost a fifth of parents (18%) said their child's behaviour got worse during the exam period, and 74% felt their children were under more exam pressure than they themselves had been when they were a similar age.

Some 22% of children reported losing sleep during their SATs, but the figure rose to 59% among children who admitted skipping breakfast.

Child psychologist Dr Claire Halsey said: "It's troubling that children are expressing so many worries about their exams.

"It's natural to experience some pressure to perform before any test, even at age 10 and 11, but these results show that SATs have become more than a little nerve-wracking."

John Coe, of the National Association for Primary Education, said: "A decent breakfast should set children up for success in their exams, and eating breakfast with friends at a breakfast club - and calming each other's nerves about the tests - is a happy way of meeting the challenge to come."

Related Topics

More on this story