New College Day from September 2017


From September 2017 we are changing the College day by adopting a new timetable. We are doing this because it will provide a better way of learning and it will better prepare our students for their futures. Please read below for more information. 


Why is this ‘a better way of learning’?

We are confident that the changes to the College day will provide a better way of learning by providing:

     Better study time

  • Increased teaching time for students,of up to 50 hours per year
  • Longer lessons which bring students academic benefits

     Better use of the day 

  • A later start means that students are ready to learn
  • Avoids students having periods of trapped time between lessons
  • Enables blocks of time for students to study, or undertake work experience, enrichment activities or part-time employment
  • More respectful of students’ other commitments and less ‘school-like’ 

     Better preparation for the future

  • Longer sessions give students more time to develop their independent study skills, more time to get support and better prepare them for university and employment.

Why are we changing the College Day?

  • Students and parents tell us that the current College day and timetable does not work as well as it could because:
  • Sometimes there can be long gaps between lessons
  • Starting at 8.50am means that some students  leave home as early as 7am to get here on time
  • Students may have up to 4 different subjects in one day: this means 4 subjects to focus on, 4 lots of homework to be working on and 4 lots of books to bring in.

Why are we changing to a later start time?

Academic research shows that students learn better later in the day and that an early start time is not optimum for teenagers. Professor Colin Epsie, Professor of Sleep Medicine in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford states that: 

'We know that something funny happens when you’re a teenager, in that you seem to be out of sync with the world. Your parents think it’s because you’re lazy and opinionated and everything would be ok if you could get to sleep earlier. But science is telling us that teenagers need to sleep more in the mornings.'

We have discussed our new timetable model with a number of academics both at home and internationally and all have commented that our planned model will help students to learn. 

Dr Paul Kelley of the Open University (and formerly Research Associate at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford) states:

'A better way of learning: Why starting school at 10:00 improves education and health? Teenage years are critical for both education and health. During late adolescence major physical changes mean teenagers need more sleep. In addition, biological changes occur, making them naturally wake up and go to sleep later in the day. So later starting times protect student sleep and student health. The 10am start will also improve learning, partly because students will be in better health, and partly because teenagers and university students learn better later in the day.'

Will the College only be open during lesson time?

No, the College is open as usual from 8.30am until 5.00pm. Learning resources will be available as normal during these times. It is only the timetable that is changing.

Will the bus timetables change?

Yes. Stagecoach are amending the current timetable to ensure that the buses will arrive in time for a 10am timetable start, but if students wish to come in earlier for independent study time, there will be earlier buses that arrive around 9am. Stagecoach will be undertaking their usual route review in order to reflect demand for the forthcoming academic year. See current timetable and route maps here.

Why are we having fewer, longer lessons?

Fewer lessons in a day gives students just two subjects or units to focus on with just two teachers. This allows more time to explore, discuss and learn about subjects that they enjoy.  In addition longer lessons provide more direct teaching time and support which sets us apart from other Colleges with a more traditional timetable.

The new timetable also provides periods without lessons to be used for study, work experience, extra-curricular activities or other commitments. 

Will lessons change?

Yes, a 3 hour lesson will not be a series of three one hour lessons it will be one continuous lesson enabling students to fully investigate a topic. This doesn't mean sitting still passively being taught for 3 hours, it means a range of activities! One lesson could also take place in two different classrooms depending on the subject. There will always be a chance to move around and take comfort breaks.

Will there be a break in the new three hour lessons?

Yes. There will be a 15 minute break in all three hour lessons. This break will happen at an appropriate time in the lesson dependent on the activity. 

How are we changing our approach to Personal Tutor time?

Tutor sessions will take place at the end of the morning lesson, with the teacher who has just taught the lesson. This will be a 20 minute session with a small group of students focusing on academic progress and progression. There will also be a large group ‘Forum’ session for students each week. This will take place in the Martin Read Hall where specialist staff will cover a range of issues from UCAS to Apprenticeships and Resilience to Cybersafety. 

What will a typical timetable look like?

Please click here to view examples of some new timetables.


New College Day - September 2017 from alton college on Vimeo.