Wakey wakey, time for early school start

MORE school children across Huntingdonshire could soon be forced from the comfort of their beds earlier in the mornings as headteachers look at altering the start of the school day. Two Huntingdonshire schools, which now start and finish the day earlier,

MORE school children across Huntingdonshire could soon be forced from the comfort of their beds earlier in the mornings as headteachers look at altering the start of the school day.

Two Huntingdonshire schools, which now start and finish the day earlier, say students learn more and get into less trouble if they have a shorter afternoon.

Now there are plans for St Peter's School in Huntingdon to follow suit.

It is consulting with parents about the change, while other schools are also discussing the possibility.


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Earlier starts are already happening at Longsands in St Neots. Deputy headteacher, Rob Watson told The Hunts Post: "We varied the school day in September 2005. Registration is at 8.45am and we finish half-an-hour earlier at 3.10pm with a shorter break for lunch.

"The improvement in behaviour has been significant and the benefit to learning was instant and has been maintained. Various studies have shown that children learn better in the morning. We have changed the structure of the day so that there is only one lesson after lunch."

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At St Ivo School in St Ives, deputy head, Martin McGarry confirmed these findings, saying: "We have started our day at 8.30am since September and we finish half-an-hour earlier. We have shortened dinner time by 10 minutes, so it is 50 minutes instead of an hour.

"We have seen the benefits - it is now 10 to three and there have been no issues today. Under the old system there would have been at least half a dozen, because children were tired."

Mr McGarry added: "After-school activities are even more popular because they can start at 3pm, go on for an hour and still be home by 4.15 in daylight. This has been a very favourable change."

St Peter's School now hopes to follow this example and reassure parents that children walking to school earlier in the morning would still be safe.

Eddie Howlett, deputy headteacher, said: "This is only at the consultation stage. However from next year the school diploma will be introduced for 14-19-year-olds studying vocational courses, such as engineering.

"This will involve collaborating with other schools and we will have to make sure the timetables match. That will be one element in the decision."

At Abbey College in Ramsey and Sawtry Village College, the school day starts at 8.45am.

At Hinchingbrooke School, headteacher Keith Nancekievill said the change might be considered at some point but not for 2007/8.

At St Neots Community College, deputy head, Scott Preston said: "There is no doubt that research clearly shows that children learn more in the morning than in the afternoon. We have considered the option of opening school earlier, and are keeping it under constant review, but logistics have prevented us so far."

n Should our schools start earlier or will it cause child care problems for parents?

Send us your views by e-mailing editor@huntspost. co.uk

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