Thursday, November 12, 2009

Delaying High School Start Times in England

One high school in England has delayed its start time by an hour to help students get more sleep, reports The Independent.

The school’s original start time was at 9 a.m. This would seem like a luxury to many U.S. teens who start school before 8 a.m.

Now classes begin at 10 a.m. The school day ends 30 minutes later in the afternoon.

“Here is something that schools can do to improve the health and mental health of their pupils,” headteacher Dr. Paul Kelley told The Independent.

The school doors remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This allows extra time for the supervision of students whose parents are at work.

Kelley was advised by Oxford sleep expert
Russell Foster, PhD. Foster emphasized that teens have a biological need for more sleep than adults. And they are wired to perform better in the afternoon hours than in the early morning.

"It is time we stopped ignoring the sleep patterns of young adults," Foster told The Independent. “It is cruel to impose a cultural pattern on teenagers that makes them underachieve. Most school regimes force teenagers to function at a time of day that is sub-optimal.”

Earlier this year the Sleep Education Blog
reported that teens in Kansas and Minnesota have benefited from starting school later. A proposal to delay high school start times in one Virginia county stirred a strong debate before being rejected.

Learn more about teens and sleep loss and your teen’s bed time on

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