Guy Holloway is Headmaster at Hampton Court House which is an independent school in Surrey, UK.
Guy became involved with the charity, Save the Children, while he was still at University and from that moment on knew he wanted to work with children. He felt he could make a difference to these disadvantaged children. Guy believes this is what motivates us as teachers.
He originally worked in PR in Paris but soon took up an opportunity to teach in a bilingual school in Paris which was suggested to him by a friend. Eventually he gave up PR and taught full time.
After helping to open schools in London and in India, Guy eventually co-founded Hampton Court School with partners in 2001. It is a 0-18 yrs school beginning with daycare provision and ending with 6th Form.
Guy feels he has approached education from a fresh perspective and done things mainly by instinct but 5 or 6 years ago he has ‘gone back to school’ studying and reading everything he can find from early years through every aspect of working with children.
Social media has also been a huge influence:
“Twitter has transformed my life. You can get a lifetime’s education in only a few years just by being very active on Twitter.”
At Hampton Court House about half the lessons are taught bilingually. For example, all the mathematics and humanities lessons are taught in French in the lower years which Guy believes ‘normalises’ the use of different languages and for his school ‘it just works’.
What’s the best time for teenagers to learn?
The Sixth Form at Hampton Court House have just started a new timetable which runs from 1.30pm to 7pm.
Guy tells us that we now understand the biology of sleep patterns much better than we ever have done before. 20 years of data has now been collected which shows that older teenagers are biologically disposed to going to bed up to three hours later than adults.
Guy mentions the book, Sleep: A Very Short Introduction, by Russell Foster in which the case is made for teenagers ‘living in another time zone’. So teenagers getting up at 7am is like adults waking up at 4am.
“By Friday, teenagers who get up early are 2-3 hours sleep deprived per night.”
Guy says that no research has really been done yet on achievement and sleep but he is actually more interested in the health and human relationship benefits.
Students in the Sixth Form have exactly the same amount of study as elsewhere but Guy says that he would prefer them to be in their optimal cognition period when they do it – and that means getting 9 hours of quality sleep a night.
What has the reaction been to the new timetable?
As the new arrangements have just started it’s too early to say and Guy accepts that for most schools it would be very difficult to change the structure to this extent. It is comparatively easy for him.
Extra-curricular activity is affected of course. If you want to play team sports against other schools, for example, it’s not going to work but other kinds of sport the timetable could work very well.
Staff only have to work once a week to 7pm and there is flexibility around the rest of the timetable. As Guy points out, British society is moving increasingly away from everything happening at the same time and for many with families this can work.
There are other schools in the UK which have altered start times of the day and the Sleep & Circadian Neuroscience Institute is worth investigating.
Guy knows he doesn’t have all the answers but is looking forward to making it work for his Sixth Form.
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