‘School days should start later’

Each week a global thinker from the worlds of philosophy, science, psychology or the arts is given a minute to put forward a radical, inspiring or controversial idea – no matter how improbable – that they believe would change the world.

This week, neuroscientist Russell Foster – a specialist in our body clocks – say that schools should start two hours later at “around 10 o’clock”.

“The reason for this is that we now appreciate that teenagers are not lazy. They get up late and go to bed late because there seem to be some underlying biological basis for it. And I think we should accommodate this biology in the school programme. When we do that, we see that exam success increases, we see that truancy goes down and we see that things like self harm go down. So by allowing the students to start their classes a little later, you enhance the educational experience. Now what is ironic is that whilst children are peaking in terms of performance in the late morning, early afternoon you get the opposite for the teachers. So teachers will be dropping. So you have this appalling dichotomy between the teacher experience and the student experience.”You can listen to Prof Foster discuss his idea in more detail on the BBC World Service programme The Forum, where you can also download more sixty second ideas.

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