Exam counselling helps guide students through the stresses of revision

Helena Senner, founder of Protective Youth Coaching

Helena Senner, founder of Protective Youth Coaching - Credit: Archant

“The stress is too much”, “I don’t know where to start with my revision”, “I don’t know how to revise”, “I can’t help procrastinating”. All common worries for Year 11 students in the build-up to their exams, but for one pastoral support member, they were the trigger for her to take decisive action.

Harpenden resident and mother of three Helena Senner founded Protective Youth Coaching to support and address the common needs of young people whatever they may face; encouraging confidence and wellbeing while at secondary school.

She explained: “I wanted to help and support teenagers through these concerns and it dawned on me that there must be scientific evidence of what works and what doesn’t to guide young people through this exciting but confusing new world.”

Returning to her degree subject of psychology, she looked at educational and performance resources as well as pulling in her experiences of working with young people and the understanding of what they go through and how they feel.

She then compiled a comprehensive exam preparation programme to enable them to be as successful as possible while remaining comfortable throughout their exam experience.

“The course introduces a holistic approach covering everything from wise lifestyle choices to improve results; the science of learning; do’s and don’ts of revision as well as how to overcome stress and cope with anxiety; with the pupils’ wellbeing always at the forefront of the message.

“As you can imagine, I’m passionate about getting these messages over to young people in order to give them the best chance of a positive exam experience and I have a large body of information that is hugely beneficial. I present this in timely blocks as a course both in school to boarders and at home in small groups.

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“I believe that exam preparation must be seen as a subject in its own right; skills and strategies to assist the student throughout the build-up, during and after those short couple of hours in an exam hall.

“What I really love about this work is that it brews a confidence in young people so that they feel actively in control throughout this new and exciting chapter rather than passively or anxiously experiencing the process.”

“My ethos has always been to bring to students’ attention the facts and data around certain behaviours so that they are empowered themselves to make good choices and become effective students.

“I have yet to meet the 16 year old who doesn’t want to do their very best and it is my experience that they thrive with the responsibility and independence of this nature; in taking ownership of their opportunities.

“I hope that knowing the findings of some of the research will also have the effect of reducing tension within the family as a student won’t feel the need to kick against instructions and expectations of adults.

“And the intention seems to be working. I receive feedback that students I have worked with now voluntarily turn off their PlayStation or give their phone to Mum when they head off to study in another room.

“Some have joined the gym when they hear of the importance of exercise for our learning or brought their bedtimes forward once they were made aware of how active our brains are at night, consolidating all the memories we have taken on during the day.”

It’s OK To Say founder Stacey Turner added: “I was immediately impressed when I first heard of Helena’s work and can see why her intentions are working. I love the holistic approach she has taken, Mental and physical strength are inseparable - they complement each other.

“Teaching these essential strategies is so beneficial, yet including reminders of wellbeing and compassion while overcoming battles helps to face and overcome any stress and anxiety. It’s a complete approach, therefore a successful one.”

For more information, visit www.pycharpenden.com