Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Sleepy teenagers..

I was really interested to read in the news this week about Monkseaton High School where Headteacher Dr. Paul Kelley is suggesting that lessons for teenagers should start at 11.00, rather than the normal school time. His own research, supported by neuroscientist Russell Foster, chair of circadian neuroscience at Brasenose College suggests that students perform better with a later start.

Monkseaton has been in the news before with trialling very short lessons to keep students engaged and involved. These have apparently seen student achievement rise. (See links on BBC news page - link below).

What I really do like about this though is that here is a Headteacher who is really always trying to work out how to best support the learning of his students for education reasons and not get trapped by organisational clutter.

If we are really talking about personalisation and 21st century learning and teaching we really should be addressing what works best for students.

After all there is no educational reason why school starts at 9.00. There is no educational reason why there are thirty in a class. (is it because there used to be 30 Roman soldiers in a cohort?). There is no educational reason for the long summer holidays (traditionally because of the needs of harvesting the crops). There is no educational reason for grouping students by some random age groupings based around birthdays.

Interestingly having talked to some teachers about this story I was amazed that quite a few would rather start school later themselves for at least some of the week, others wanted the status quo. A few agreed with the idea for the same reasons of learning and student engagement. (NB: he is not saying a later start for all students). Of course the added advantage that with a shift system is the school accommodation becomes even more flexible!
For full story click here

What do I think? I really am not sure right now about how I feel on this. Being the father of a teenage, it feels as though it should make a lot of sense. She certainly tries to keep different time zones to me.
I will be following this with real interest as will many others. I suspect that hDr Kelley may be right! All credit to him for being interested, motivated and brave enough to try to do the right thing for his students.


Anonymous said...

I think you cannot talk so confidently without the evidence of times earlier when you didn't have the argument at 10 pm of, 'My prorgramme is just about to start'. What amazes me - to paraphrase you - is the amount of freedom teenagers are given now. 'We' are afraid of telling our young adults that they "have to" do anything. It is actually normal for young people to be told exactly what they have to do. That doesn't mean you cannot discuss things with them. (Your response may be, 'Thanks for entering the debate. It's good to talk about.....".) I know let's get young people used to getting up at 11am and then tell them they have to be up for 6am to drive to Manchester when they start work. I, too, am a lover of sleep but I needed to realise that you cannot burn the candle at both ends.

Anonymous said...

I just love this blog. Interesting stories with insight.

Gareth Long said...

Thanks both for posting.

In response for the first comment, I still think the idea is worth pursuing for a while to monitor the results and I will watch with real interest IF it goes ahead. I have already declared in the blog that I am not sure how I feel about this. I was really surprised just how many teacher friends were interested in at least considering it as a concept.

Your point about work is well made but I do also think that many forms of work will change in the not too distant future. Far more people are working at home - with emerging technologies far fewer people will travel endlessly to more meetings - as I currenty do. Is that good? well...... mixed reactions and that is another whole debate.

Interesting though!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gareth Long said...

Sorry about the above post being deleted - I hit the wrong button by mistake. Please do comment again.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher I would also be interested in starting school later, but I wouldn't like to commit myself for a full year in case I hadn't thought the consequences through properly. I would certainly give it a terms trial, at one or two days a week.