An ‘anxiety epidemic’ in primary school-aged children is being attributed to constant testing in schools by a Perth paediatrician.

Dr Elizabeth Green told 720 ABC Perth regular testing that started at pre-primary and continued with the National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) was causing unnecessary stress to children.

“In the last couple of weeks, every kid I have seen in years five, seven and nine said they are worried and scared about NAPLAN,” Dr Green said.  “They are scared about failing, about not graduating … that they are going to be failures and not get a job.  It’s testing and not educating our kids.”

Dr Green said anxiety was the next big public health issue Australia was facing.

According to Dr Green, anxiety can manifest within children with behaviours such as children becoming quiet and withdrawn or externalising their fears and becoming angry at parents, peers and teachers.

“But of most concern is that they just give up,” she said.  “They disengage from school and I’m seeing a whole cohort over the last few years of kids who don’t go to school and aren’t going to finish school.  That’s a concern to educators, parents and mostly for the kids themselves.”

A high level of feedback was received from listeners on the topic agreeing with Dr Green’s views.

“My intelligent, happy daughter was very nervous about NAPLAN,” Megan said via SMS to the radio station.  “We didn’t ever mention it, the school didn’t place undue pressure, [but] kids are smart and they know when they are being tested.”

Image source: Shutterstock

  • I think that it’s also impacted by peer pressure and competitiveness which magnifies the issue.


  • I don’t know. We never felt this pressure for the NAPLAN tests. Maybe it depends on the schools you go to, if kids feel pressure or not.


  • yes it is stressful and it would be for the parents also. all the kids should do, is their best.


  • Let kids be kids! I would have had a nervous breakdown with all this NAPLAN rubbish if it was around when I was at school. It’s not fair on the kids. Anxiety is hard enough to deal with when you’re an adult!!

    • Agreed! Yet another reason to abolish NAPLAN!


  • I think the school is putting the pressure on the kids to perform. so the schools need to be addressed here.


  • I’m so glad we didn’t have NAPLAN when I was in school. I would’ve been worried for sure, even though I did well at school. It puts pressure on them and they shouldn’t be feeling like that at such a young age; plenty of time to do that when they’re older, unfortunately.


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