Source: Daily Mail

FOR most pupils, half-term break has just ended but already many parents are making plans for the Easter holidays. Perhaps unfortunately for their children, these increasingly involve enrolling them in revision classes in an attempt to improve their exam grades.

But a new study suggests pupils working hard over Easter to get the best marks could bolster their chances of exam success simply by taking it easy. It recommends that self-hypnosis may be a useful way for teenagers to overcome problems of anxiety and depression.

Although primarily intended for children suffering from problems such as depression, the technique could also help them to perform at their best during Standard Grade and Higher prelims. Details of the study emerged at a recent conference held by The British Psychological Society’s Division of Educational and Child Psychology in Glasgow.

The research looked at secondary school pupils who had undergone treatment at the Hampshire Hypnotherapy Centre to combat anxiety-related problems. The centre, which has been open for six years, applies psychology with hypnotherapy and has been the focus of doctoral research at University College, London.

David Byron, a senior specialist educational psychologist for Hampshire County Council, studied the ten pupils at the centre along with ten others being taught more traditional relaxation techniques. He found that, while both approaches helped reduce anxiety, hypnotherapy seemed to produce greater gains as well as reducing feelings of hopelessness.

There was also an improvement in the students’ self-esteem and a high level of parental satisfaction. Mr Byron said: ‘ It seems to empower the students to change their lives and it’s not me doing it, it’s them. I am just showing them how to do it.’ Teachers said that, following treatment, students became more confident and found it easier to relax.

The hypnotherapy pupils were seen along with their parents in sessions and told to think of things they wanted to change in their lives. In the following sessions, they were taught how to self-hypnotise and work towards these targets. The students then received three follow-up visits over six months.

For other parents, the prospect of self-hypnosis to secure the best exam grades will seem a step too far so they may prefer to follow the more traditional route of hiring a private tutor. Some parents say they are keen for their youngsters to attend such courses because class sizes in state schools are too large. Across Scotland, the number of children being sent to private tutors throughout the school year has rocketed since Labour came to power.

Studies suggesting revision courses can make a real difference to pupils’ grades seem to indicate they are well worth the money. Researchers at Strathclyde University’s Quality in Education Centre have monitored the progress of more than 8,000 pupils throughout the UK. The academics surveyed results from 50 schools over three years and found the students who took revision courses did better than predicted. They found that one of the most effective ways of improving exam results was attendance at Easter revision courses.

Many companies offer Easter revision sessions likely to be their busiest time of the year which provide ‘ top- up’ courses for children during the holiday. At Glasgow-based Topline Tutorials, established in 1993, children can attend four-day courses, with each class lasting two-and-a-half hours per day for each subject. All the main subjects are taught by experienced teachers who give extra guidance, revision tips and moral support.

Each class contains no more than 11 pupils, which means tutors can devote more time to individual needs than in a state school, where class sizes can be as high as 25 or 30 children. A Topline spokesman said: ‘The education system is such that teachers have a massive workload to get through. ‘The Higher year is a very demanding one and what we do is give the pupils help to focus on their studies.

‘It is now more competitive to get into university. That means there is more pressure on youngsters to get five As at Higher, for example.’ The courses cover practice in exam techniques, study and revision skills, one-on-one tutoring and revision materials. All the teachers have a proven track record and the company says that 90 per cent of the pupils who attend rate the courses as excellent.
But some parents may prefer to save money by opting for books on exam techniques and revision tips, such as Hodder Gibson’s How to Pass series, launched in 2005.

John Mitchell, managing director of Hodder Gibson, said: ‘March and April always sees another surge as the students realise they’re not as ready for their exams as they thought they were. ‘Our books are cheaper than a tutor though teachers and tutors often recommend them as well.’

Publication link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

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