The Clarion magazine interviewed Joe Booth, one of the founding campaigners
Clarion: Why do we need to take the stress out of studying?
We need education so we can learn things so we can contribute to society. If we are stressed while studying we are not contributing. It is not just students but also school workers. But just looking at students school pressure goes way beyond what is needed to motivate us: it is exams, it is regimentation, rigidity of the curriculum, and it is everything that removes democracy from the running of education.
Students often deal with this stress by misbehaving in lessons. Often it leads to students not wanting to be in school. School is regimented as it emulates the workplace. This is not the sort of education we need, we want an education that allows us to think for ourselves.
Clarion: What could be done to make studying less stressful?
We should abolish exams. Detentions could be abolished or reformed. Teachers need more support, resources and smaller class sizes so they are not stressed when dealing with students, and passing that stress onto them. We should abolish academies, and bring all existing academies back into local control. Students need more individual attention and support. Lessons should be about the subject, not about how to pass the exam. Cuts to special education needs support needs to stop, and be reversed. We also need to fight against the huge cuts coming to schools which will see schools losing even more teachers and support workers.
This happens in universities as well. 27% of university students report having mental health problems while studying, with higher rates amongst women and LGBT students.
Clarion: How can school workers (teachers etc) be involved in a campaign to take the stress out of studying?
They can campaign on the stress that effects school workers, as this impacts on the education of students. The National Education Union should organise a serious campaign around school worker stress, but also the causes of this stress. We need ideas about how to create a different form of education system which is not based on jumping through exam and assessment hoops, and conform to a restrictive curriculum.
We want them to unite with students who face stress, and are organising against it.
Clarion: What can people who want to get involved do for the campaign?
In your school you could organise a petition around a specific issue/s that affects you and your school mates or the workers in the school. And you can have further discussions on how to solve all of these issues in our movement.