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Survey: Most Helsinki schools likely to start classes later next autumn

According to school principals, 60 percent of 7 to 9th graders and only a third of primary school students want to start their school day before 8:30 am.

Evert Pussinen, Tehtaankadun ala-aste.
Student Evert Pussinen would welcome a later start to the day. Image: Ronnie Holmberg / Yle

If school kids like Helsinki sixth grader Evert Pussinen get their way, waking up for a school start at 8.00 am could be a thing of the past next autumn.

"It would be much nicer if school would start later and I could sleep in just a little longer. Then I would feel a bit better rested and be able to concentrate better," he says.

Evert is just one of the kids whose opinions Helsinki school principals have been listening to. About 60 percent of respondents to an Yle straw poll on the topic said that they think it's likely that their schools will push back school start times to 8:30 am come next academic year.

Yle received a total of 60 responses to its questionnaire. Results showed that 40 percent of school principals believed felt that there would be no changes to the current system in which the first lesson in some schools starts as early as 8:00am.

Many educators have argued that starting the day later moves the entire schedule to a later start, which means it affects after-school clubs and activities.

Helsinki’s education department has recommended that school lessons start at 8:30 or 9.00am each morning. The proposal is based on expert advice and studies that suggest teenagers’ body clocks in particular naturally shift to a later rhythm, and that schools should attempt to reflect that.

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