The first phase of Tablet’s for School’s independent research showed breakages to be a significant issue and revealed that across all the schools involved in our research, between 5-8% of devices were broken at some stage. It is interesting to note that risk of theft is the concern that parents and teachers voice initially when learning through tablets is discussed. This has not in fact been an issue in any of our tablet schools. What we have also seen, however, is that schools introducing tablets report positive improvements in terms of independent learning, parental engagement, integrating SEN children into the broader class group and that teachers welcome the change to pedagogy that tablets can stimulate.
A recent article in the Daily Mail highlighted that pupils breaking their devices can be an expensive issue. The truth is that adopting tablets can be a minefield for schools and it is clear that Head teachers and their teams are crying out for guidance to make the right decisions for their pupils long term.
Simon Mason, Head Teacher of Honywood School, Essex, made the brave decision to adopt ipads in his secondary school and anyone visiting can see just how engaged his students and colleagues are and the extent to which pupils appreciate and respect their personal device. Tablets have been integrated to support the school’s learning style and the school reports an increase in attainment since their introduction. This did not happen overnight, however; it was part of a broader pedagogical change programme to help his teachers to develop new ways of teaching.
We don’t yet have the answers yet, which is why our independent research begins this term across nine secondary schools in England and Northern Ireland. What we see, and what the schools involved in our study tell us, is that currently, it is a difficult decision for schools to embark on the tablet journey; there are lots of related issues to think through such as insurance, accessories, wifi capability… and that is before you even get to thinking about preparing staff or how to use it as an opportunity to embrace new ways of teaching and learning. We have seen that good covers are essential but it is hard for schools to know where to start. One of the schools in our research was quoted £25 per cover. If you are not an expert in procurement, why should you have to go through this kind of quagmire?
‘Tablets for Schools’ is all about opening up the debate, making industry wake up to the fact that schools are on a budget and need better assistance when it comes to wifi provision, insurance, protective screens and accessories.
We believe tablets can make a massive difference in the classroom and to our children’s education and that they can help to give them the best start when they leave school for the workplace. Our focus is to encourage manufacturers, retailers and suppliers to think about how they can support our schools. All over the world, tablets are becoming commonplace in classrooms from the US and Australia to Zimbabwe and South Korea. Our children have the same needs, but equally it needs to be a much smoother process for our already stretched Head Teachers and their teams.