An extra hour of sleep 'can boost pupils' exam results'

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London, March 21 (ANI): A comprehensive school in the UK is giving pupils an extra hour in bed in the hope that it will boost their concentration levels.

The usual 9am start at Monkseaton High School has been pushed back to 10am as part of an experiment.

The preliminary results of the experiment, overseen by three scientists including an Oxford neuroscience professor, showed that the practice boosted exam results and slashed absenteeism.

"The data are only preliminary but show lateness has dropped 8 percent and long-term absence 27 percent because of the changes to the start of the school day. Our GCSE results in maths and English in January are significantly improved on the scores in January 2009," Times Online quoted Paul Kelley, the headmaster, as saying.

"We have moved from a situation where it is absolutely intolerable for some kids to get up very early to one where they can manage to wake up and be alert for lessons at 10," he added.

Liam McClelland, 14, a Monkseaton pupil, said: "I'm getting the extra hour's sleep and I just feel much happier and more alert. I used to wake up and I was so careless in the morning: really simple things like pouring milk or something, I'd miss the bowl."

The system is largely inspired by neuroscience professor Russell Foster's research.

Foster and other academics found that teenagers have a biological predisposition to go to bed late and get up late, and may not begin to function fully until 10am, two to four hours later than adults.

Foster's research also implies that the most difficult lessons should take place in the afternoon, when pupils will be at their most alert.

This adolescent "time shift" persists until the age of 21, after which a person's body clock starts to shift back again, until by the age of 50 they are likely to get out of bed as early as when they were young children.

Foster said: "Teachers will say, 'I know my kids are at their best first thing in the morning', but what's really going on is that the teachers are feeling particularly awake by 9am and the kids are half asleep, making the class easier to control."

The change at Monkseaton was introduced in October after a vote by parents, teachers and pupils, although about 40 percent opposed it.

Kelley now plans another vote, this time on whether to make it permanent. (ANI)

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