When students in their mid-teens started school at 10am instead of the usual 8:30am, rates of illness decreased by more than half over a two-year period, and got significantly better grades.
“The big issue about school times is health,” said Dr David Kelley of the Open University, the lead author of this new paper. “It starts with physical illness, and then there’s mental illness, and last but not least academic performance.”
According to Dr Kelley, conditions as diverse as obesity and depression have been linked with excessively early school times and lack of sleep, and a growing body of evidence is giving calls for change real scientific clout
The new Frontiers in Human Neuroscience study, led by Dr Kelley, suggests that schools need to start considerably later if the full health benefits are to be realised.
“Ten isn’t a magic number,” he said. “The time shift gets progressively later, for biological reasons, from the onset of puberty.”
Previous work by Dr Kelley and his collaborators with university students suggested that by the age of 18, academic performance would be optimised if teaching began as late as 11am or even noon.
Do you think starting school later would help teenagers? Has your school/college trialed different start times? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via T witter ~ Tamsin
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