Matthew Burns

HEADMASTER’S BLOG – THE END OF MORNINGS?

Hampton Court House School in Surrey is delaying the start of Sixth Form lessons until 1.30pm in order to match the biorhythms of teenagers. The Headmaster tells us “As I drove to school this morning, I saw a whole line of teenagers with bleary eyes, staggering like zombies along the pavement to another school.”

Hmmm, I wonder why that is? I think I would look for different rhythmic causes before settling on a biorhythmic interpretation.  I may not know my hip-hop from my house, but I know what a late night looks like the next morning and I think Mr Holloway might benefit from a few himself. A quick look at the web suggests McLuskey’s might be a good destination where “Mondays are Bullocks” and its “Up Yours Thursdays”. If that doesn’t appeal, there’s always the Kingston Hippodrome.

But seriously, what a lot of nonsense. In the first instance, it is not just teenagers who need to be on good form, but teachers too. I wonder how their routines have been considered? And do we really think that late afternoon lessons are the most effective? Any teacher and pupil will tell you they are not. So why increase them?

Then there is the whole question of what replaces morning lessons? I simply cannot see Sedberghians lying in bed day after day. In fact some are out of bed at 6.15am – working or training in the gym, on the pitch or the sports hall. It strikes me that the raison-d’etre of boarding school life is to take part in as many things as possible. That does not include lie-ins.

Is it really in their interests? What happens when those cosy school duvet-days are over? Whilst the rest of the country has adapted to the standard working day, the Old Hamptonians will be reeling. As Bill Gates said in his advice to teenagers, “If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you have a boss!”

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