Education: Wide awake and ready to learn: Children at Court Manor School don't suffer from post-lunch depression, thanks to a compressed day

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The Independent Online
SHARYN WHEALE chose her children's school because it had adopted what is known as the 'continental day'.

Pupils at Court Moor School in Fleet, Hampshire, start school at 8.30am and finish at 2.30pm. They can then take up one of the many after-school activities run voluntarily by staff, or do their homework before going home at about 4pm.

Ms Wheale, now a parent governor at the school, says: 'I remember how tired out I was at the end of the day when I was at school. Children absorb more information in the early part of the day, and mine wouldn't fit in all their activities if they went to a school with a traditional timetable.'

Ken Shorey, the headteacher, says the 'compressed day' was controversial when it was introduced six years ago. 'Parents were anxious about children being at home unsupervised, and some thought that it was not the best preparation for working life.' But a ballot at the time showed 75 per cent of parents in favour. After two years, parental support had risen to 84 per cent, and the change was fixed.

The continental day found least support among teachers: 'It's a very pressurised day for staff,' says Mr Shorey. 'There are not the opportunities to pause for breaks.' But, he adds, 'the advantage is that we don't suffer from that post-lunch depression, and pupils are on the premises all day; they don't wander off at lunchtime.'

There are only two 20-minute breaks during the day, enabling pupils to eat a snack lunch. Exam results have improved greatly: 55 per cent of pupils leave with between five and 10 GCSEs at grades A to C.