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Most British students don’t start school until around 8.50am,

but one recent study concluded that most 18- and 19-year-olds don’t feel mentally sharp until much later, and therefore possibly shouldn’t start their studies until after 11am.

In a separate study, the same researchers tested whether moving the start time of an English comprehensive school from 8.50am to 10am made any difference to its 13- to 16-year-old pupils.

Rates of absence due to illness fell dramatically following the change: whereas before they had been slightly above the national average, two years after the change they were down to half the national rate. Pupils’ school performance also improved.

Even a 10am start would be difficult to impose in countries such as the US, where most adults also start work earlier than in Britain. It would require a change of mindset among parents – as well as a more flexible attitude by employers – but the data suggests that it would make a difference to many pupils.

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