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Last Updated: Friday, 23 May, 2003, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Wake-up call for exam layabouts
Teenager asleep
The duvet is often a greater temptation than the desk
Teenagers who oversleep on the morning of a GCSE exam are getting personal wake-up calls from education officers.

Manchester's chief education officer, Mick Waters, is sending staff out to knock on the doors of pupils who fail to attend.

While most teenagers fret about GCSEs, a large minority miss exams because of the effects of too much socialising the night before or simple laziness.

Mr Waters said: "Exam day comes round and instead of a full house in the examination room, in some schools desks are empty.

'Utter shame'

"Often this is because the pupil has overslept or just can't be bothered to get out of bed and come in for the paper.

"It would be an utter shame to waste eleven years of school by oversleeping for one hour on exam day."

Mr Waters wrote to head teachers asking whether they thought house calls might help.

The very best way for young people to do well in their exams is to be there
Mick Waters, chief education officer

The response was positive and education officers will be visiting hundreds of pupils over the next few weeks.

The initiative harks back to the 19th Century, when factory staff knocked on workers' doors to get them to the mill on time.

Mr Waters said: "I know from my own experience in teaching that missing exams has always happened.

"Parents have a key role to play in all of this and I am asking them to do their best to support their children and to make sure pupils get in to school on time for their exams.

"They can also help by encouraging students to try to balance their work with their social commitments - making sure that teenagers work hard at their revision and that they get a decent night's sleep before exams by saving their partying until the weekends.

"My message is simple - 'if you're not in, you can't win'.

"Exams, particularly GCSEs, are really important and, hard work and commitment aside, the very best way for young people to do well in their exams is to be there."

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