Class hours at some Beijing schools tweaked to allow pupils more sleep

China's Education ministry issued a series of guidelines early this month, recommending that primary school pupils get at least 10 hours' sleep a day. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Some schools in Beijing have adjusted their daily schedules in response to a call by the Education Ministry to ensure pupils get enough sleep.

The ministry issued a series of guidelines early this month, recommending that primary school pupils get at least 10 hours' sleep a day, while those at junior middle schools and high schools should have nine and eight hours respectively.

Under those standards, classes at primary schools should start after 8.20am and those at middle schools after 8 am, the ministry said in the guidelines.

Following the issuing of the guidelines, Mapo No. 2 Primary School in Beijing's Shunyi district recently implemented a new timetable for students, with the first class of the day starting at 8.35am and students arriving at school half an hour later than before, Cui Shukun, the school's principal, told Beijing Daily.

"Although the new timetable has been implemented for only a few days, we've already received some positive feedback," he said. "Pupils are happy about having more sleep."

The new timetable divides pupils into three groups that arrive at school at different times: The fifth and sixth grades arrive the earliest, with students entering school and having their temperatures taken at 7.45am; the third and fourth grades follow at 7.50am, while the first and second grades arrive at 7.55am.

After roll call at 8.05am, pupils will have a half-hour exercise session before starting the first class of the day.

"Before the timetable was adjusted, the morning check began at 7.50am and classes started at 8am," Cui said.

More schools in the Chinese capital are taking similar measures.

Health Times, a Beijing newspaper, said a few schools in the city have announced new daily schedules for students, with the school day starting with morning exercises and the first class of the day not starting before 8.20am.

Parents have been looking forward to new schedules for a while.

Shen Yiming, the father of a second grade student in Beijing's Daxing district, said he hope the new schedule could be implemented as soon as possible so that everyone in the family could get more sleep each day.

The Mapo No. 2 Primary School emphasised the importance of physical exercise as well as sufficient sleep, and Cui said the new timetable will not reduce pupils' time for sports.

Apart from the half-hour exercises in the morning, pupils also have physical education classes and time for outdoor sports during their day at school. In addition, there is time for sports after school to ensure that children have sufficient physical training, Cui said.

The time for morning exercises will change slightly depending on the season, he said.

For pupils whose parents go to work early and have to send them to school ahead of the time specified, the school has assigned teachers to supervise sports activities or book reading for them, Cui said.

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