Tree stump thinking

The phenomena of lethargic early-morning teenagers is one I know only too well. I know I am not alone.

But if Paul Kelley and his team are right why do secondary schools start their working day at 9?

Why not 10?

Why are we getting this so wrong if such an obvious solution (including, as a bonus, to traffic congestion, at least in the morning) is readily available?

Ever heard of working parents? Who start work before 10?

47 thoughts on “Tree stump thinking”

  1. The problem is more to do with the mollycoddling of today’s youth. When I was at school many many years ago I got myself up and out to school without the need for parental intervention, and the same went for all my schoolmates. I cannot recall any of them who were dropped off/picked up at the school gate by doting parents like they all seem to be these days.

  2. My parents didn’t have a car, which did rather preclude being part of the “school run”.

    As for congestion, the fact that my mile long walk to the station is along near-deserted roads during half-term, and bumper-to-bumper Chelsea tractors during term time, suggests that congestion will merely be shifted by one hour.

    Even by his own argument, moving the school day one hour forward will simply move home time into the evening rush hour, whereas now it mostly precedes it. Tree stump thinking within tree stump thinking, from the Master himself!

  3. We have plenty of unemployed people. Couldn’t we just employ them to walk gangs of kids to school whilst the parents go off to their jobs?

    OK we would need to give each kid minder a thorough background check to make sure they wouldn’t physically or sexually abuse the children, road safety training, ethnic diversity awareness training, sexual orientation awareness training, sexual identify awareness training, as well as a high visibility jacket.

    Oh, and a specially designed pole with a flag on it so the children can keep the minder in site so they don’t loose the group. The pole would have to be specially designed so that there would be no possibility of it being capable of hurting anyone even if someone tried to use it as a weapon.

    But aside from those issues, I am sure that it would work as a policy.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    What KevinS says. I had to get myself up and organised from age 11 in order to catch a bus at 6:50 as my school was on the other side of Huddersfield and started at 8:30am.

    The problem is parents don’t trust their children and let them fail a few times. They’ll soon get the hang of this responsibility thing and be batter adults for it if treated properly.

    On a slightly different note, there was uproar on our local BBC news yesterday because of the number of children were having to act as “carers” had suddenly increased by fast amounts (they didn’t elaborate so we are left to assume that it all happened on election day when the Tories were elected), and some of them as young as 6 were doing basic cooking tasks. The one they interviewed was good and talked about not burning herself. Rather than drawing the obvious conclusion that 6-year-olds can be trusted to do basic cooking tasks and we should treat all 6-year-olds with more respect, its a national disaster that requires the full force of Government to fix, presumably by giving more money to the charities that were making the claim.

    We need to stop infantalising children, its not that long ago they were brought in to this world as economic units to help out with the the daily grind and they are capable of doing that now.

    And yes I feel sorry for some of them who do seem to miss out on a social life, which is why I have been known to give to charities that provide respite holidays for these children.

  5. No Tim.

    I was reading this a few weeks ago, and its about adolescents – da yoof – not children who *need* taking to school. Mr Murphy even states this in his comments.

    It won’t affect congestion as they don’t drive – and I think school congestion is a separate problem anyway.

    In some cases they’re needed to help with younger siblings, or can’t for some other family reason.

    So there’s no reason 14+ can’t be left to start school later – say 10/11 and finish later, say 5 ish.

    Except of course they can’t. Because they’re willful and disobedient (YMMV), boys especially. You can’t trust they will have cleaned up the kitchen, dressed appropriately, washed themselves properly.

    Or maybe they do – if they’re not tired and grumpy. I think it’s worth a real world trial somewhere.

  6. The answer is that the danger to kids going home in the dark in the evening rush-hour is greater than them going to school in the light in the morning rush-hour. We had this argument the other way around decades ago when some idiots wanted kids in Glasgow and Stornaway to go to school in the dark because they wanted the clocks on Berlin time to suit bond traders.

  7. I was told by a parent that a school in your home town, Tim, has been experimenting. Driven by an educational psychologist, Bath Community Academy (Culverhay as was) has been fiddling with the timetable to put sports/PE on first lesson and to bring in more mentally taxing lessons later once the pupils have woken up a bit. It was, I am told, a bit of a success but it doesn’t mean school has to start later, just that the timetable needs a spot of rework

  8. In Singapore the schools have shifts (at least they did a few years ago, I suppose they still do). One set of kids start dead early and finish early and the others late. That’s how my little cousin’s school there worked anyway.

  9. Tim

    You forget that Lord Murphy is a Professor and so knows about everything, education included.

    He was himself educated , which is proof.

  10. But if Paul Kelley and his team are right why do secondary schools start their working day at 9?

    Because schools are child-minding services for busy parents?

    In Singapore the schools have shifts (at least they did a few years ago, I suppose they still do).

    I suspect the schools in Singapore are run for the benefit of the children, not the teachers.

  11. Isn’t the brain at it’s best in the colder early morning?

    The solution is school for teenagers between 2am and 8am or similar.

    Sleep can happen at any time. It’s difficult to wake a teenager up, but they can go for long periods without any sleep at all, and can sleep anywhere. Just prop them up against a book case for example, and just poke them when they need to be activated.

    Maybe teenagers shouldn’t be allowed beds.

  12. In the USA, schools start at about 7am. In France, schools run on various shifts with start times varying between 6.30 and 9. How do the poor kids cope?

  13. Starting and finishing later probably wouldn’t have much effect on working parents, since the school day (a bit before 9 to a bit after 3) doesn’t cover the working day anyway (and certainly doesn’t cover working day plus commute).

    But the bigger problem is that surely our reactions to times are largely relative; if 10 becomes the new time for starting school, then, once people have adjusted, 10 becomes the new 9.

  14. “But the bigger problem is that surely our reactions to times are largely relative; if 10 becomes the new time for starting school, then, once people have adjusted, 10 becomes the new 9.”

    Yes very good point. You have to wonder how these people cope if they visit a different time zone.

  15. The really intensely irritating feature is his misuse of the word ‘phenomena’. Grinds my gears, that one.

  16. @BIND,

    Surely if an older kid is looking after their younger sibling for more than 2 hours per week that needs to be reported to the revenue as a taxable benefit in kind?

  17. Surely yummie mummies having the time (and Chelsea tractors) to do the school run is a sign of great wealth? Which is usually greeted more positively in these parts.

  18. He really does hark back to an earlier bygone age, even in this regard – I went to school in the 80s and can remember being allowed to ride into school on my own even at 7 or 8 years old – no way that would be the case now with the paranoia over paedophilia, a lititgation culture and suspicion of any unsupervised contact between adults and children this would be possible. He really is on a mission to take Britain back to the 1960s or 1970s – and the ideological undercurrent is clear from this comment from Mass murder advocate and intellectual titan Ivan Horrocks:

    ‘Having experienced the same issues as you when my own kids were younger I – like many millions of parents – recognise this “condition” only too well. Yet another social construct (the “school day”) being passed off as a mental or physical condition/sickness (lethargy and laziness in kids).’

  19. “He (Murphy) was himself educated , which is proof.”

    But do we have proof Murphy was educated? Data, available to date, is far from conclusive.

  20. At age 8 I walked half a mile to school. Age 10 and we moved house, walked 2 miles to school. Age 11 started senior school 2 bus trips away – leave the house 7.10am and get home just before 6. And put dinner on.
    This was pretty normal among the kids at my school, apart from the putting dinner on.

  21. John77 I think you will find that if school had to start and finish in daylight in Stornoway, then for large parts of winter the school day would be too short to be of any use. The clock adjustment argument is spurious anyway. I’ve heard that dairy farmers are against summer/winter time because of having to get up/go to bed an hour earlier. As if cows can tell the time!!

  22. Rather an obvious point, others seem to have overlooked.
    The kiddywinkies, bless them, are being educated. There might be the slightest advantage in them being required to present themselves at the not so challenging 9 of the clock.
    Because, otherwise, it’s gonna come as a helluva f*****g further education to them when they start work & have to cope with the grown-up world. The lambs.

  23. Kevin,

    > The problem is more to do with the mollycoddling of today’s youth.

    To some extent, perhaps. But, in my own case, I have two daughters. Daughter A stays up late and can’t abide getting out of bed. Got nothing to do with when her bedtime is, as she obstinately stays awake once she’s in bed. She really doesn’t do mornings, and has been behaving like a teenager since she was 4. Daughter B is only 4, loves sleeping, will happily put herself to bed, and wakes up bright and eager before anyone else in the house.

    I’ll happily confess to a bit of mollycoddling, but I can assure you that both my daughters have received theirs from the same mollycoddlers. There does appear to be some other factors. I think some of it’s innate.

    There was a bit of research done years ago into people who are late for everything. Discovered a correlation between that and premature birth. Funny old world.

    Richard,

    > But the bigger problem is that surely our reactions to times are largely relative; if 10 becomes the new time for starting school, then, once people have adjusted, 10 becomes the new 9.

    To some extent, yes. But daylight makes a big difference. I switched from a 9 to a 10 start when I lived in Glasgow, and it never became the new 9; it stayed far far better than 9.

    Jack,

    > Isn’t the brain at it’s best in the colder early morning?

    Mine bloody isn’t.

  24. @ Kevin S
    Primary school hours are roughly symmetrical around 12 GMT/BST. Stornaway true noon is nearly half-an-hour later than GMT, so nearly one-and-half hours later than Berlin time. The amount of time spent travelling to school in the dark using Berlin time is significant; the amount of time travelling home in the dark using GMT insignificant.

  25. Can anyone explain why you’re discussing school times in Hampshire in relation to daylight hours in Stornaway?
    Beats me.

  26. @ bis
    If you read my first comment, you will see that I was pointing out that this is a mirror of the debates decades ago about using Berlin time in winter.

  27. Everyone’s missing the real reason school has to start early here: to let kids fit in 15-30 hours a week of homework on top of 40-odd hours a week of school.

  28. Bloke in Costa Rica

    They’re all mollycoddled anyway. It used to make me green with envy the school day my sister (who went to the local State school) had compared with me (who went to public school). We got up at 0650, had breakfast, chapel 0745–0800, lessons until 1310, lunch, more lessons and games from 1405 until 1810, dinner, then prep from 1930–2100 or 2145 in Lower and Upper VI, then bed. Half day on Saturday and no prep, free day Sunday (but 90 mins chapel) and prep in the evening for Monday.

    Did we complain? Well of course we bloody did, it was brutal. But we did it anyway.

  29. BiCR:

    Exactly. Except we had to arise at 0630, and had some PE before lessons. Dormitory windows were always open: I once woke up to a dusting of snow on my bed.

    In the hols, I’d hear the day schoolers complaining about getting up at 0745 to get to school for 0900. Wimps.

  30. BiCR>

    Sounds like a fairly light load to me. When I was at the inner-city comp I attended for a while, it was up before 7 to leave by 7.15 or so in order to get to school in time for the 8am start. Lessons til about 1, 40 mins for lunch (if the teacher of the pre-lunch class didn’t keep everyone for longer). Then back to class until 4. Then home to do a minimum of three hours homework a night.

    When I then went to a public school briefly, the poshos couldn’t understand why I fell about laughing when they described the schedule to me as ‘brutal’.

  31. There was a bit of research done years ago into people who are late for everything.

    That’s most of the world, then. A handful of AngloSaxon and North European countries schedule things based on what the clock says, the rest of the world does it based on relationships. Which is why the French consider it vitally important to spend twenty minutes kissing each other in the morning in the office, then drifting into a meeting whose start is inevitably delayed. With no apology.

  32. In New Zealand schools the finish time has to be sufficient to still fit sports training in afterwards.

    Everything else works backwards from that.

  33. I dunno about kids walking to school but aged 9/10 at the end of term I was released from prep school and told to make my own way to Heathrow to catch a flight to the Middle East (where my parents lived – it wasn’t completely insane).

    I have to say I was more independent and switched on by 12 than my kids are now, two or three years older, but I only have myself to blame as I’m the one who wouldn’t let them do mad shit like the above.

  34. A good clip around the ear woul\d solve any reluctance to activate on the part of the modern youf.
    I started work (part time to be true) when I was 16. And paid income tax on it.

  35. I dunno about kids walking to school but aged 9/10 at the end of term I was released from prep school and told to make my own way to Heathrow to catch a flight to the Middle East (where my parents lived – it wasn’t completely insane).

    Yeah, that was common. I lived in Wales, which was about as accessible as the Middle East, but at the end of term a load of foreigners, expat kids, and I were all dumped at Pulborough station and expected to make our way to Paddington Station or Gatwick airport.

  36. My youngest starts at 8:25 and has PE first thing on a Monday morning. He is driven to school by his mum but it is eight miles away, and it’s near the tube so I get dropped off with him. His big brother used to go on the bus, which meant an 0730 start but they stopped it a year or so ago because the school became so popular the kids from our town couldn’t get in any more, so there wasn’t enough demand to keep the service viable.

    It’s an academy, natch. It’s in the poorest area in the district and it’s totally outperforming the middle class schools. They’ve taken over the local sink school too, and that’s improved out of all recognition since. They’ve just launched the district’s first sixth form since the early 1980s. And Corbyn and his mates want to give them both back to the LEA. Thank goodness my lads will be through by then…

  37. Yes, I know. But some people are always late by the standards of their own community, not just compared to a clock.

    Are these people called “women”? My wife would be late for the Apocalypse.

  38. Having been made redundant on Monday, but asked to stay on and work my notice, I am currently on a voyage of discovery to find out just how casual my relationship with the clock can become. Particularly once the sun is over the yardarm.

  39. Every few years a documentary turns up on tele where a school (in the USA for the two that I have seen) experiments with starting later. The results always seem to be positive in discipline and in achievement.
    The working parents argument is surely the reason that these experiments do not become the norm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *