Mental health champion calls on schools to 'reconsider' tests

Northern Ireland’s mental health champion says primary and secondary school pupils should not be sitting exams this year.

Transfer tests would normally be taking place this month to decide which post-primary school 10-year-olds will attend.

Professor Siobhan O'Neill warned that the stress caused by the pandemic means exams should be pushed to the side for now.

As mental health champion, her role is supposed to inform government policymakers on mental health issues.

“The transfer test is adding a significant pressure, at an age when young people’s brains are developing, at a time when they’ve already suffered so much,” said Professor O’Neill.

“Young people are suffering more from isolation and loneliness.

“So what we’re asking today is for those schools who are continuing to say that they’re going to use this test to reconsider, because let’s face it, many of these children will be unable to attend the test centres because they are self-isolating anyway.

“We feel it is unnecessary and the mental health impact is potentially huge.”