9am is too early for school day start - councillor

A COUNCILLOR is to propose that Glasgow pupils start high school at 10am - arguing that it is difficult for teenagers to function at the normal school start time of 9am.

High school pupils are unable to function at 9am, a councillor has argued. Picture: PA

• Teenagers should start school at 10am as it will help them function better, according to a councillor

• Bailie Nina Baker will put forward motion to Glasgow City Councfil for teenage pupils to start their school day an hour later

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Nina Baker will put forward the motion at a meeting of Glasgow City Council, asking that the high-school start time is moved back an hour.

The motion is based on a study that appeared in the New Scientist magazine in April, suggesting that scientific research has proven that teenagers need the extra hour in the morning to be able to function properly.

The Green councillor is asking that a group be set up to investigate whether it would be possible to experiment with the later start time in city secondary schools.

The proposal has already come under fire, with education union EIS saying that teachers would say the opposite is true.

Hugh Donnelly, EIS Glasgow branch secretary, said: “We are baffled, yet curious and certainly unconvinced.”

According to the motion, research has found that teenagers require a different sleep pattern to younger children or full-grown adults.

When a teenager’s alarm goes off at 7am, it is the equivalent of a 5am wake-up call for an older person.

This then results in poor learning in school.

Dr Baker said: “The general principle has been known for quite a long time.

“I knew about research already, but this article came up and I thought, ‘Could we do anything with this?’

“It’s been tried in other places in Britain and had good results. Anything we can do to help Glasgow teenagers achieve better results has got to be a good thing.”

The UCL Academy in London was the first in Britain to change its start time to 10am following the research.

The school, which is sponsored by University College London, introduced a 10am start for sixth formers, and classes end at 5:30pm. Pupil and teacher surveys “have so far been positive”, according to reports.

Dr Baker is initially proposing that the later start time would only affect S4 and up.

She also suggests another possibility could be to move more “intellectually demanding” subjects to later in the day.

She added: “I think it’s worth giving it a try, but it doesn’t mean that it’s cast iron.

“The council is increasingly moving towards evidence- driven policy-making.

“I have just been involved in another group that was looking at payday lending. We ran that like a baby royal commission.”

The motion will come before all councillors tomorrow, with elected members voting on whether it should be looked into further or not.

Mr Donnelly added: “We would be interested in any research which might suggest a late start improves learning.

“The majority of teachers would suggest that the opposite is true.

“It is very unlikely that such an initiative would find favour with parents and teachers.

“Any such move would involve consultation with parents and teachers over a period of time.”