School says there’s ‘no cause for alarm’ over mobile phones in classrooms

Chichester High School for Girls.'''Photo by Louise Adams C130126-2 Chi Stock Chi High Girls ENGSUS00120130129142853
Chichester High School for Girls.'''Photo by Louise Adams C130126-2 Chi Stock Chi High Girls ENGSUS00120130129142853

The debate over the use of mobile technology in schools and whether or not to ban it has split teachers and politicians nationwide.

One West Sussex school, though, has come out in support of the use of phones and apps – even crediting them with having a positive impact on exam results.

Chichester High School for Girls recorded the best exam results in the school’s history this summer, with 73 per cent of students securing A*-C grades (including maths and English) in their GCSEs, compared to national average of 68.8 per cent. The school was also rated ‘outstanding’ following its last Ofsted inspection.

The success flew in the face of research by the London School of Economics, published earlier this year, which found schools which restricted the use of mobile phones experienced an improvement in test scores.

Robin Barclay, head of geography and e-learning at Chichester High, explained the problem did not lay with the technology but with schools’ understanding of how to use it. He said: “Using technology effectively in schools requires good teaching and clear instruction. We have a clear mobile in schools policy which permits our students to use their phones in the classroom if appropriate for the task.

“We have wi-fi access across the school so they can research topics at an instant, can use their phones to create videos and produce reports to share with their fellow classmates. The opportunities technology presents our students are huge if driven correctly.”

The school subscribes to GCSEPod, an educational apps which provides learning material via audio visual podcasts to support the GCSE curriculum.

Last year, Year 11 students downloaded thousands of hours of revision podcasts as their final exams approached, which Mr Barclay said had a direct impact on their exam results.

He added: “Those students who downloaded lots of podcasts all reached their targets and more often than not exceeded their expected grades. This year our geography students really embraced it and created revision playlists, just as they would with popular music sharing sites, which without a doubt helped 35 per cent of our students secure an A* or A grade in their exams – 10 per cent above our target and way beyond national expectations.”

Mr Barclay said it was clear the “millennium generation” consumed information in a very different way to previous generations.

With today’s teenagers never having known a world without the internet, a large number of them had been brought up using touchscreen and mobile devices. As a result, the school wanted to harness the power of the mobile technology in their school bags.

Mr Barclay added: “Technology will never replace the teacher but given the seismic shift in the way in which the younger generation communicate, schools across the country should be looking at the way technology can be weaved in to the classroom as opposed to how to prevent it from entering.

“Rather than become a cause for alarm, the sensible use of mobile technology within schools should be encouraged.”

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