More schools should take leaf out of Nanyang’s book


Peter Heng Teck Wee

Published: 4:00 AM, June 2, 2017

I support Professor Michael Chee’s call for more schools to emulate Nanyang Girls’ High School by implementing a later start time (Letting students sleep in is a move worth emulating; May 29).

Given the scientific evidence in favour of this, there is no time to lose. The scale-up of such a scheme, however, can succeed only if the interests of other stakeholders, such as parents, teachers and transport operators, are also considered.

In this regard, the Education Ministry should borrow from best practices it has been applying elsewhere for years. For example, primary school at the Singapore International School in Hong Kong starts at 8am with an optional reading period.

School buses typically reach school before that, but parents are free to drop their children off any time before the reading period ends at 8.30am.

This arrangement gives flexibility to parents who wish to let their children wake up at a natural time, without impinging on the ability of transport operators to run multiple shifts.

The staggered arrival of pupils enables teachers to manage student flow with ease, and a reading period ensures that the class has had time to settle down for a quiet, constructive start to the day.

An added benefit of an optional reading period is inculcating a love of reading in students. My son looks forward to school every morning because he enjoys the freedom to read his own novels.

Our local schools can stand tall in a world of digital devices and shortened attention spans by adopting the same bright start to their day.