Eight-minute lessons are key to grades

CLOCK-watching has taken on a whole new meaning for pupils at one school.

Paul Kelley, head at Monkseaton Community High School

CLOCK-watching has taken on a whole new meaning for pupils at one school.

The head of Monkseaton Community High School, North Tyneside, says short, punchy, fact-filled lessons are the way ahead.

So youngsters at his North Tyneside school are receiving lessons lasting just eight minutes.

Then they have a 10-minute break.

Then the eight-minute lesson is repeated.

Monkseaton head Dr Paul Kelley said he could cram four months of teaching time into the 480- second sessions.

He said: "We are calling them ‘Space Learning’ lessons.

"The idea is based on scientific breakthroughs that suggests a gene in the brain – the Creb [corr] gene – can be developed with short lessons followed by periods of brain inactivity.

"This is a permanent genetic pathway that causes learning."

The school claims that the period of brain inactivity, normally sessions of sport, is crucial in making the memory "stick".

Pupils at the North-East school now revise using the technique.

Dr Kelley said: "When I heard this idea I was gob- smacked that no-one else was doing it.

"The good thing about the idea is that the students have exactly the same time-table as normal.

"In an hour-long lesson of science, for example, the children have three eight- minute sessions and they have two breaks."

Dr Kelley is convinced the technique will change the face of teaching in this country.

He said: "This is the genetics of learning. It’s not just about learning in the classroom, it’s about changing the way we shape teaching.

"We are learning a lot about it and it goes against the grain to do something to distract kids in lessons, but it could change so much."

And the new technique is proving a big-hit with students.

Fushia Stutter[corr], 15, of Monkseaton, said: "I think that this is a much more effective method of learning.

"The breaks help to keep you interested and teaching the lesson three times in such a short period helps me to remember it."

Daniel Wood, 15, a Year 11 pupil at Monkseaton, said: "In my eyes it is the best revision we have done.

"Even though we did the revision quite a long time ago, when we did it again we could still remember the answers.

"The inclusion of a 10-minute break doing something fun also helps us remember because it keeps our brains active instead of doing something boring and forgetting what we have done."

The school first started the sessions two years ago and has how decided to speak out about their success.

Angela Bradley, a science teacher, devised a special one-hour GCSE revision session, condensing and entire unit, or half a year’s work, into a single, eight- minute PowerPoint presentation.

This was followed by a 10-minute game of Simon Says.

The presentation was then repeated, with strategic words removed and pupils were asked to help fill in the blanks.

After another 10-minute gap, the presentation was repeated again and the pupils were asked questions.

"It’s based on the same principle as rote learning," said Miss Bradley. "We always knew that repeating something makes it sink in. But now we know why."


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer