Pupils at Islington school benefit from later start

North Bridge House School in Canonbury Place

North Bridge House School in Canonbury Place - Credit: Archant

Pushing the start of the school day back to 9.30 am has had a dramatic effect on pupils, according to the Head of an Islington private school.

Jonathan Taylor, head teacher at North Bridge House in Canonbury

Jonathan Taylor, head teacher at North Bridge House in Canonbury - Credit: Archant

Since September, sixth form students at North Bridge House, in Canonbury Place, Islington, have been able to enjoy nearly one extra hour in bed, thanks to the new timetable.

The result? Their Head Teacher, Jonathan Taylor, claims they’ve definitely become more punctual and alert.

“We were having a problem with the late arrival of sixth formers, and when we researched the issue we found that there was very strong evidence to suggest that teenagers’ Circadian rhythms (physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle) were out of sync with those of adults,” he said. “So we adapted our timetables accordingly.”

Instead of starting school at 8.40am and leaving at 4.15pm, pupils now start the day at 9.30am and leave at 4.40pm. Breaks have been slightly cut to make up for the lost time.

Two months on, and the school is already reaping the benefits, according to Mr Taylor.

“Our punctuality and lateness records have improved dramatically,” he said. “The teachers say the pupils are more responsive first thing in the morning, and the students are delighted.”

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The school decided to change the timetable after looking at research by sleep expert Paul Kelley, who believes that allowing pupils to stay in bed for longer and start their school day later could boost exam results by around 10 per cent.

On Wednesday, Mr Taylor invited Dr Kelley to speak to parents about his research. “I thought it would be useful for parents to hear this and get them on board,” said Mr Taylor.

Has he seen an improvement in his students’ grades? “The proof will be next summer, but we certainly feel it is making a difference,” said Mr Taylor. “Not only are they arriving on time, but they are also slightly better prepared and with a better mindset to do their work – not desperately scrambling in early in the morning.”

So far, the later school days are just for the sixth form, but Mr Taylor says that he is considering eventually rolling out the new timetable for the whole school.

Dr Kelley’s free talk will be held at North Bridge House school at 6-9 Canonbury Place on Wednesday November 25 from 6.30pm-7.45pm. For more information and to book click here.