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This UK school starts in the afternoon for its tired teenagers

Teenagers are not lazy, they are just built that way. At least this was the premise to an experiment with school start times. It took place at Hampton Court House is a private school in the U.K., where children can be sent by their parents at a cost of $25,000 per year.

The experimental start times apply to sixth-formers only (16-to-18 year-olds, in their last years of school.)

Explaining why morning lessons had been scrapped in favor of afternoon lessons, Guy Holloway, the headmaster at Hampton Court House, told the local newspaper – the Shropshire Star – that teenagers have a “biological disposition to going to bed late and getting up late”. He also added that teenagers who wake up for a traditional starting time are “chronically sleep deprived”.

Interviewed by the BBC, one prospective student, Gabriel Purcell-Davis, 15, stated: “I want to wake up in my bed, not in my maths lesson.”

On this basis Holloway thinks teenagers will work better and achieve better exam results. The reason for doing so is based on research where a 7 a.m. start for a teenager is seen as the equivalent of a 4.30 a.m. start for an adult, based on the changes underway in a teenager’s body. The research was conducted by Paul Kelley, of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford. Kelley recently put forward his ideas at the British Science Festival in Bradford, during September 2015.

Talking with The Guardian, Professor Kelley explained that a more advanced understanding of circadian rhythms has allowed researchers to assess the optimum levels of concentration, wakefulness and work ability and how these relate to different times of day.

The timetable for older teenagers at the school starts at 1.30 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m. The school, having run a pilot for a year, aim to continue with the later start indefinitely.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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