Pupils given lie-in to improve learning

A comprehensive school has taken the decision to allow pupils a lie-in each day in the hope that they're learning will be improved. Monkseaton High School in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, now begins lessons at 10am as an experiment to see if pupils will benefit from more sleep. Dr Paul Kelley, the school's headmaster, took advice from sleep experts before launching the experiment with the blessing of teachers, parents and pupils alike.

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According to research, teenagers coping with puberty require more sleep and are therefore likely to be at their peak in the afternoon rather than first thing. Russell Foster, a professor of circadian neuroscience at Brasenose College, Oxford, advised the school.

He told the Independent: "It is time we stopped ignoring the sleep patterns of young adults. Sleep provides all of us with our sense of wellbeing and the faculty that helps make us human: our extraordinary capacity for creativity and innovation.

"It is cruel to impose a cultural pattern on teenagers that makes them underachieve. Most school regimes force teenagers to function at a time of day that is sub-optimal, and many university students are exposed to considerable dangers from sleep deprivation."

Though initially Dr Kelley was keen on a more radical 11am start, a compromise was reached. Lessons now continue for an extra 30 minutes in the afternoons and the school stays open for study until 5pm. Those children whose parents' schedules are disrupted by the later start can still arrive from 8am.

Dr Kelley said: "My view is that this is a very, very important issue because here is something that schools can do to improve the health and mental health of their pupils." The experiment will run for five months.

Let us know what you think. Will pupils benefit from an extra hour in bed?