Ofsted warns against 'extremely disruptive' tablets in school

Richard Vaughan

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Ofsted has warned that bringing tablet computers into school can be “extremely disruptive”, just as the watchdog’s own figures reveal that nearly one in three secondary students say they are allowed to use their devices on campus.

Schools are increasingly turning to iPads and other tablets in their lessons, with many now providing a personal tablet to every one of their students.

An Ofsted survey, carried out during school inspections, reveals that 30 per cent of secondary pupils say their school now operates a so-called “bring your own device” policy. But the inspectorate takes a hard line on the use of such technology in lessons, and has called on headteachers to adopt a similar approach.

“Pupils bringing personal devices such as laptops or tablets into school can be extremely disruptive and make it difficult for teachers to teach,” an Ofsted spokesperson told TES.

“It is up to schools to decide whether they have rules about personal devices, but Ofsted would be supportive of heads who took tough action to make the learning environment better for children.”

The statement comes at a time when the government is reviewing the impact that mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, have on behaviour in the classroom.

Schools minister Nick Gibb recently expanded the remit of the government’s behaviour tsar Tom Bennett to look at the effect that mobile devices have on behaviour in lessons.

But Miles Berry, principal lecturer in computing education at the University of Roehampton, supports the idea of allowing such technology in classrooms, and believes more schools will choose to allow students to bring in their own devices.

“Schools have two options when it comes to technology: they can either buy the kit or they can let their students bring their own in,” he said. “Budgets are limited and if schools are satisfied they can keep their students safe, then allowing them to bring in their own device and use it for their learning seems like such an obvious thing to do.”

*This article has been amended. It originally stated that 30 per cent of secondaries allow students to bring in their own devices. The Ofsted survey states that 30 per cent of pupils say their schools allow them to bring in their own devices.

This is an edited version of an article in the 11 December edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full version of this story here. You can subscribe to TES online here or read the full coverage in this week's TES magazine, available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here.

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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