This year, the government has invested £79 million into youth mental health across the UK – which is an amazing gift, but it won’t be enough if other government plans end up going ahead.

A number of MPs have suggested that because of the lockdowns, students need help in catching up on lost time.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb has talked of being open to all ideas on how to help students. Some, however, have suggested making school days longer, and even holding summer schools as an effective way of providing extra teaching.

That’s caused rage among students, parents – and even teachers.

Mental health and Covid-19

Online learning has been stressful for teenagers and adults alike. That money to help with mental health support wouldn’t be needed if the education students receive could be better planned.

The absurd suggestion to expand school days is going to cause additional unnecessary stress, the effects of which will be all the worse following the mental impact of the three lockdowns.

How would you feel if you were told that all the hard work and dedication you’d put in during the lockdowns was for nothing, and that you’d have to go to school for longer days and have your summer practically ruined?

Students are already being given enough summer homework to keep their brains active; stretching out the school term into the holidays would most likely weaken their motivation to learn, especially when the government has made it so confusing to know whether their years will be taking part in GCSEs or not.

For our generation, 2020 and 2021 have been truly terrifying.

Even before COVID started, the education system was putting far too much pressure on pupils. I can remember revising for GCSEs and crying almost every night, out of fear of failing and being made to do them again. Many of my friends struggled too, and had to go home from the immense pressure put on their shoulders.

I don’t necessarily believe this is the fault of teachers; it’s the work they’re being paid to give us. As we got closer to our mock exams, the homework they were already bombarding us with increased rapidly. Having been told to revise ‘in our own time’, we were given barely any time to relax.

Sometimes, I’d be given so much homework by one class that I wouldn’t be able to complete the homework from another. This led to detentions and punishments, during times when I could have been catching up on some much-needed socialising with friends.

One night, I’d revised for hours for one of my mocks, and also had homework that night for the same subject. I decided to prioritize my revision over the homework – which I don’t regret now, because of how they marked our exams last year. But when the teacher found out I hadn’t done the homework, I was given a detention.

Exam stress

There should be better planning, in a way that actually helps students with their GCSEs. Being put under immense pressure, while at the same time preparing for an exam that’s supposed to be important for your future is horrible – there’s so much going on at once.

I just hope they learn how students are really feeling, so that the way homework and revision are planned can change.

Again, isn’t it ridiculous how they can invest so much money into supporting the mental health of teenagers, yet be blind to one of the biggest causes of our stress? Yes, the money they’re investing shows that they do care about us, somewhat.

But they needn’t have put as much in, if they could just change the way schools are run. No, not by extending school days, throwing even more work at us or punishing students for missing some homework due to revision.

They should decrease the amount given, and instead give more assistance to students directly. Take revision – talks about how to revise from the school didn’t help me at all. I had to turn to YouTube instead, even though it’s the school’s job to prepare us for the future.

The way education system is now has always baffled me. Hopefully they act on the matter sooner rather than later.


Rhiannon Smith is a first year A Level student at Ludlow College.