School bell delay to let students 'wake up'

By Martha McKenzie-Minifie

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The 9 o'clock bell may be relegated to the past at New Zealand's first state senior high school.

It depends on whether the Albany school accepts a suggestion that classes start at 10am.

The school is due to open in February 2009 and will cater for up to 1500 students in Years 11, 12 and 13.

The intake is expected to come largely from Albany Junior High School, which opened in 2005 for pupils of an age that would traditionally attend intermediates and early years of high schools.

Establishment board chairman John Parlane said the older skew of the roll of a senior high meant a more flexible timetable would be needed.

Studies showed early morning was not the best time for some teenagers to learn. One option was scheduling free periods first in the day to give students time to "wake up", he said.

"You'd still have the buses coming in at 9 o'clock potentially but for the first hour it would be the self-directed study," said Mr Parlane.

"That's an option, so you don't go straight in to calculus or something at 9 o'clock in the morning."

The majority of students would be enrolled out of choice, not because they were under the legal school leaving age of 16.

The principal would be appointed soon, Mr Parlane said.

Yet to be named, the school will cater for the population boom in the North Shore suburb, one of the country's fastest developing areas.

It will be built on a 4ha site opposite Massey University Auckland campus, at present occupied by the Albany Outdoor Education Centre.

An earlier suggestion to use land leased to Rosedale Pony Club was overturned after a public outcry.

Ministry of Education northern region network provision manager Karl Hutton said the building design would accommodate the original Albany School building, a historic structure.

Mr Hutton said the school would be built up rather than out.

It would likely have two levels of carparking and three of classrooms.

In places it could be five storeys high.

Mr Hutton said the decision to have a junior high and senior high model was led by the community.

Flat Bush, a burgeoning area in Manukau where a senior high school was also in the pipeline, had also pushed for the option

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