VIVA: " Empower your students to achieve their best "
Not just another part of school life
For as long as students have been sitting exams, they have been suffering with test anxiety; the question is not whether this is part of students’ lives, but rather how can it be managed effectively. More recent investigation into the effects of exam stress shows that it can result in feelings of panic, low mood, non-attendance in school, non-completion of tests, and a general feeling of being overwhelmed by school life. With more children and young people reporting high levels of exam related anxiety, schools need to find practical and effective ways to improve the lives of their students, and help to safeguard their mental health.
You do not need to accept the ill effects of exam stress as just another part of school life. You can make a change to give your students the resources they need, to ensure the detrimental effects of test anxiety are kept to a minimum. You can help to empower young people to feel in control of their emotions in such a stressful time, so that they can perform better under the exam pressure.
How was VIVA developed?
A word from Dr David Soares
At the heart of my career has always been a focus to help children. Working as a secondary school teacher helped to confirm this for me, as I had the opportunity to help young people reach their full potential. Being part of the important milestones in my pupils’ lives was extremely rewarding, as I helped them to navigate their journeys into adulthood.
It wasn’t until I took on positions as both Head of Year 11 and Director of Learning that I could clearly see an area in which I could really make a difference. This role allowed me to take a look at the impact of the examination process on young people. Most of us will experience exam stress at some point in our lives, but we often overlook the greater impact that this stress can have on not only academic performance, but general wellbeing.
It was not enough to just acknowledge the problem, I really wanted to do more to find a solution. Whilst I loved the job, I was not always able to dedicate my time to one-to-one support for those that needed it. This was the motivation I needed to take the leap to a different discipline. With new found focus, I returned to University and retrained as a Child and Educational Psychologist. I completed my doctorate at the University of Manchester, using my experience of education and knowledge of psychology to explore how educational opportunities can be improved to help young people reach their full potential.
My doctoral thesis investigates ways to improve student and staff wellbeing, whilst helping to alleviate test anxiety symptoms. Along the way I have published several articles and resources for test anxiety and continue to work closely with the Educational and Child Psychology programme. The goal is to find new ways to equip staff and students with the tools to effectively manage the symptoms of exam anxiety.
What is VIVA?
VIVA is a unique test anxiety tool kit for schools. The programme has been devised by educational psychologists, supported by the latest research as well as direct feedback from school staff and students. Its main purpose is to help young people from the age of 11 and up to tackle the detrimental effects that testing can have on their mental health. Our programme aims to support them from when they begin their revision, right through to their last exam.
Over the course of the five week programme, students will be given the opportunity to build new skills and apply them to their school lives, using the key elements of VIVA: Psycho-educational learning about stress and anxiety, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), and Mindfulness. This unique combination includes tried and tested methods of reducing stress and anxiety, integrated to provide the most effective approach.
Through staff co-delivering VIVA with an educational psychologist, your school will be equipped to deliver VIVA to future cohorts.