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Back to School – Can light really help?

As the evenings draw in and the seas get a bit rough (still warm though!) here are some papers about managing that shift back to school after the summer break …

Unsung heroes…
As billions of students around the world flood back to school, spare a thought for their teachers. Lockdown ‘home schooling’ gave us a stark lesson in just how remarkable those unsung heroes really are.
And yet the classrooms where they spend long hours every day with a rowdy room of young people full too often falls far short of the bare minimum that a knowledge worker comfortably installed in an office with their peers would expect.
In the UK, the standards that regulate lighting for education (LG05) dates back over a decade to 2011. I am proud to work with the team at Kier on a series of SEN school projects. Despite the passion and persistence of the whole team, it’s clear that until the standards change, the additional cost of provision up to current workplace standards, even for students with extreme sensory needs, will seem like luxury for all but the most visionary local authorities.

I’m looking forward to the Education Estates® Exhibition | Conference | Awards in October, and the opportunity to debate some of these issues with the Department for Education and advisors including the brilliant architect Sarah Williams of S Williams Architects Ltd.

Keeping the lights on at school…

Sue Atkins shared this Observer article – The Observer view on the energy crisis: the price of warm schools mustn’t be fewer teachers – a sobering reminder of the tough times that schools face this winter.

It’s obviously not going to solve the problem overnight but article points out how energy efficiencies in lighting could just help – Shining a light on energy in schools

Please join Fred Bass of Fred Bass Consulting, John Bullock of the Light Review, Paul Garbett of Arup and Paul Foulkes of Theben, to discuss how the energy crisis could just be a driver for change in the lighting sector – Can Lighting Really Boost Environmental Performance on 15th September, 4-5 pm UK time.


Being a teenager is tough enough!


Perhaps we need to design the school day to support their body clock. An adolescent’s body clock runs around two hours later than an adult: 7am for us is like 5am for them- no wonder they’re reluctant to get out of bed….

Implementing a 10 a.m. (from 8:30am) in a UK secondary school (13-18 year olds) start saw a decrease in student illness after 2 years of over 50%. Reverting to an 8:50 a.m. start reversed this improvement, leading to an increase of 30% in student illness. The 10:00 a.m. start was associated with a 12% increase in the number of students making good academic progress equivalent to 20% of the national benchmark. It concludes… ‘changing to a 10:00 a.m. high school start time can greatly reduce illness and improve academic performance’… a simple move that ‘appears to have few costs and substantial benefits’   – Napping: Benefits and Tips
Ready for a lie-in?
After the first week back at work and school, many will be longing for a duvet day. The trouble is, sleeping in for more than an hour beyond your usual wake-up time will make getting up on Monday even harder… and even increases your risk of depression. That’s because of something known as ‘social jetlag’ which, as the name suggests, confuses your body clock with knock-on effects on pretty much every system in your body – mood, metabolism, immune response, memory… 
This study of over 1,400 non-shift workers aged between 17 and 78 years old, found that the odds ratio of experiencing depressive symptoms went up to 1.3 for between 1 and 2 hours and 2.14 for more than an hour compared to less than 1 hour of social jetlag – Social jetlag is associated with an increased likelihood of having depressive symptoms among the Japanese working population: the Furukawa Nutrition and Health Study
There are plenty more studies where that came from – the consequences of that lie-in are pretty sobering and worse for the teens in your life.
The solution? 
 1/ make getting to bed earlier in the week a priority so you don’t build up such a desperate need to catch up at the weekend 
2/ take a power nap – at around 2pm, for no more than 30 minutes so you don’t fall into that deep sleep and feel groggy when you wake up – and at least 6 hours before you head to bed. This article has some great simple tips for that too 
 3/ get some daylight even it it’s reading the Sunday newspaper or catching on on a podcast or your social media posts (;-) chatting with family on the phone by the window – but better yet a 20 minute stroll – How to Nap Like a Pro
Even in the rain it’s likely to be a whole lot brighter out there- bright light is better than a cup of coffee to wake up the brain as this classic study explains – 

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