Thousands of teenagers will be encouraged to have an extra hour in bed, to see if a later school start can improve their GCSE results.
From next September 32,000 teenage pupils will start school an hour later than usual in an experiment to find out whether a lie-in improves their exam performance. Students from more than 100 schools in England will take part in a four-year project, based on scientific findings that teenagers are out of sync with the traditional school timetable.
Researchers from the University of Oxford say that teenagers start functioning properly two hours later than adults, the BBC reports. “Our grandparents told us our sleep is incredibly important. We have always known that, but it’s only recently that we’ve become engaged in the importance of sleep and circadian rhythm,” said professor of sleep medicine Colin Espie. “We know that something funny happens when new teenagers start to be slightly out of sync with the rest of the world. But science is telling us in fact there are developmental changes during the teenage years, which lead to them actually not being as tired as we think they ought to be at normal bedtime and still sleepy in the morning.”
A small study at Monkseaton High School in North Tyneside in 2009 found that starting school at 10am rather than 8.50am led to the proportion of pupils getting five good GCSEs increasing from about 34% to 50%.
The study is one of six projects looking at how the application of neuroscience can improve teaching and learning in schools. Others include changing the gaps between lessons, increasing pupils’ physical activity and adding brain training games into the curriculum.
If you teach teenagers, do you think giving them a lie-in will improve their exam performance? If not, what do you think would? Are you part of one of the schools trialling this? What are your thoughts?