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Late start benefits teens

24-03-2010

A North East high school has experienced a drop in absenteeism following the introduction of a later 10am start time, reports BBC. Monkseaton High School’s general absence rate has fallen by 8%, while levels of persistent absenteeism have dropped by a massive 27% since the mid-morning start time was brought in. The decision, which has been in place since October for 13 to 19 year olds at the Tyneside school, was introduced following research claims that teenagers were more mentally and physically prepared for school work later in the day, and that the afternoon was the optimum time for memory activity for the age group.

While the experiment has resulted in a clear improvement in absenteeism at the school it remains to be seen whether it will have the same effect on grades, although indications from recent GCSE exams suggest it could.

“We can help them learn better. We can help them be less stressed by simply changing the time of the school day,” explained Head Teacher Paul Kelley in a BBC interview. “It is a question of do schools fit the medical reality of teenagers.”

The overall outcome of the study is set to be published next year.

The Monkseaton High School trial is an interesting counterpoint to an experiment carried out with college students in the US that found early risers were more academically successful, although the findings did acknowledge that early morning starts were at odds with many teenagers preferred routines.

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