Research is a wake-up call

21st July 2006 at 01:00
Surrey teens win TES research contest for doing study that reveals half of pupils don't get enough sleep. Shafik Meghji reports

A school research project which discovered that half its pupils are not getting enough sleep has won a TES-sponsored award.

The competition, organised with the National Foundation for Educational Research to celebrate its 60th anniversary, aimed to encourage the development of pupils' investigative skills by getting them to do a piece of original research.

George Abbot secondary school, in Guildford, Surrey, was the overall winner with its project on pupils' sleeping habits.

Katherine de Ferrer, a drama teacher whose Year 7 form group carried out the research, said: "The pupils kept sleep diaries for a week and sleep experts from the University of Surrey came in to advise us. We sent out questionnaires to 200 Year 7 pupils to record their sleeping habits and drew together all the data. The pupils then analysed it in small groups.

Everything was then put into a PowerPoint presentation."

They discovered that more than half of students were not getting enough sleep and that most pupils were unaware how much they were supposed to have.

Ms de Ferrer's class won an NEC laptop, a subscription for students to take the European Computer Driving Licence course from Advance Learning and a copy each of the computer racing driver game TOCA 3.

Eleanor Simcock, 12, said: "We were really pleased to win. We found out the amount of sleep we should be getting and that lots of pupils weren't getting it."

Castledyke primary in Barton under Humber, North Lincolnshire, won the key stage 2 category with research on whether the Humber bridge is still as useful now as when it first opened.

"In Barton, we are celebrating 25 years of the Humber bridge," said Dawn Coultas, a class teacher. "The pupils carried out surveys to find out how many people used the bridge. They researched its history and drew the bridge in art lessons. In English, they came up with a questionnaire for 250 local people."

Their research concluded that the bridge is more useful now than when it was first built, Jbecause more vehicles and commuters use it now.

TheJpupils also suggested that there should be benches for walkers to rest on and that security should be improved to stop people jumping off the bridge to commit suicide.

Three 14-year-olds from Skerton community high school in Lancaster won the key stage 3 category with projects on the influence of Japanese popular culture and whether playing computer games has an effect on the quality of homework.

Caroline Jackson, the assistant head, said: "We are delighted to win. We are a very small school and only came out of special measures in February.

The computer game research found that there was a slight negative correlation between the number of hours pupils spent playing computer games and their homework marks."

Daneshill in Hook, Hampshire, and Hearsall community primary in Coventry both got special commendations for their entries.

Gail Godwin, of the NFER, said: "The enthusiam of the pupils bubbled through in all the entries, but in the end it was the originality and the thoroughness of the research that were the deciding factors."

* newsdesk@tes.co.uk

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