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Tired Teens to Start School at Lunchtime

View profile for Nathan Davies
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According to the BBC this week, as part of a trial, students in a London sixth form will start their school day from 1.30pm to see if concentration levels will improve as a result of the later start. Pupils at Hampton Court in Surrey will begin their lessons at 1.30pm and finish at 7pm.

Reassuringly, the change has been made based on 20 years of research into the teenage body clock. According to the BBC report, our body clock, known as the Hypothalamus part of the brain, shifts to 3 hours later during adolescence. Therefore a 7am start time for teenagers is equivalent to a 4.30am wake up call for an adult.

The pupils at Hampton Court, already say they are feeling much more respondent, and are finding it easier to concentrate as a result of the change in hours. It’s too early to say whether the trial will have a positive effect on exam results, but it’s hoped a wider study by Oxford University will help determine whether schools should in fact open later. A four-year experiment is currently taking place by the university on GCSE students from 100 schools across England to examine whether starting classes later can improve exam results. The pupils will be starting at 10am as part of the groundbreaking experiment, not quite as late as the 1.30pm start for the six form pupils at Hampton Court.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need eight to ten hours sleep each night to function best, although most on average only get seven and a half resulting in sleep deprivation. Anyone with a sleep-deprived teenager will know that this can have an affect on mood, behaviour and academic performance.

It will be interesting to see the result come exam time for the sixth formers at Hampton Court, and whether the change of traditional school time will have a positive effect on the pupils. Is this the first step towards a more flexible education approach?

Synchronising Education with Body Clocks

Children starting school later has been something researchers have been looking into for many years, with academics believing that there is evidence showing the benefits of synchronising education with teenagers body clocks.

As we mentioned, as teenagers grow and develop their body clocks shift, would adapting the school start time benefit pupils?

In recent news an Oxford University academic and sleep expert claimed that working 9-5pm is regarded as “torture”. Dr Paul Kelley claims that body clocks of adults under the age of 55 are not in sync with nine to five working hours, leaving people working those hours sleep deprived, with a “serious threat” to their mental health. He also suggested that the starting times of work and school should be shifted to fit the natural body clock. Dr Paul Kelley commented; “Altering education times can both improve learning and reduce health risks”.

This would certainly be a huge shock to society, and one that would inevitably have a major impact on everyday life. We also wonder whether synchronizing school start time with body clocks would improve attendance? With pupils feeling more productive, along with improved grades, will this create an overall more pleasant experience at school, deterring pupils from absence?

Last week, we reported on term time fines and how one parent successfully overturned his fine. In general we were pleased to see this outcome, at HCB we believe that a parents’ commitment to education cannot be measured by attendance figures alone. In this instance, Jon Platt was seeking permission for his child to take leave from school for a family holiday. In 2014 an incredible 64,000 term time fines were issued.

As I’m sure you would agree, education is not only an important part of raising your child, but it can also be a complex one to. Whether its being faced with incorrect educational support for your child or a term time fine you may not agree with, we believe in providing you as a parent with the very best specialist education advice to allow your child to achieve their full potential.

If you have any questions or concerns relating to your child’s attendance, please contact a member of our team who will happily discuss this with you.