Frequently Asked Questions

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Why are you proposing introducing iPads to my childs year group?

We believe that something vital is missing from today’s classroom, which is largely unchanged in appearance and functioning since Victorian times.  The model on which most classrooms operate allows little room for student creativity and independence.  Students tend to be spoon fed, and they come to rely on the teacher controlling their learning.  This model does not adequately prepare young people for tomorrow’s workplace.  We believe that a blended model, with the best of traditional teaching and learning, supplemented by the use of current technology, best prepares students for exams whilst allowing creativity and independence to flourish.

What specifically are you hoping to achieve?

Three aspects of learning in particular can be enhanced through the use of one to one devices: the use of specialist apps, which augment the teaching of a particular topic – well in excess of 40,000 apps have been written specifically for education, many of which are free; the use of the iPad for giving feedback to students on their work and the exchange of ideas between student and teacher, and the potential to unlock students’ creativity through having a range of tools available within the iPad (still/video camera, voice recorder, video editor, word processor, web browser etc).

Do the iPads have to go home every night, or does this present an unnecessary risk to younger students?

Ideally the iPads should be taken home if maximum benefit is to be gained from the scheme.  However, taking the device home will not be compulsory.  As part of the induction process, students receive guidance on personal safety.  Each iPad can also be tracked and disabled by the school if stolen.  Few schools with similar schemes report theft as being a problem.

How much will this scheme cost?

Blenheim is committed to making a significant financial contribution to ensure the success of this scheme.  A campus-wide wireless network has been installed; a new dedicated, high speed fibre optic broadband connection is being leased. 

A number of engaging and challenging online resources have been purchased or subscribed to.  Staff undergo a training programme to ensure they can make best use of the learning opportunities provided by iPads. 

Blenheim is also committed to offering the devices at least 20% below High Street prices. We do not receive any Government funding for a scheme such as this, however, so need to ask parents to support us by making a contribution towards the running costs.

How does the parental contribution scheme work?

Over the course of five years from Year 7 to 11, each student will be provided with the use of an iPad at school and at home (from Sept 2017 this will be the iPad 5th Generation 2017 32Gb), a robust case, a range of apps, and a full warranty and insurance cover with no excess.  A refresh of the device takes place half way through Year 9, with whatever device is current at the time.  The retail value of this package is well in excess of £1000.  By buying iPads and apps in bulk, we can make savings that are then passed on to parents.  

What happens at the end of the scheme?

There are two possibilities – hand the iPad back, or make a small payment to keep the device.  The market value at the end of the scheme will depend on which model of iPad is supplied by the school.

Are the parents who agree to contribute subsidising those who can'€™t or won'€™t?

No.  We want the scheme to be equitable, ie include all students, even when their parents can’t or won’t pay.  The school meets this cost through its contribution and use of grant income and the Pupil Premium funds.  We will loan an iPad as needed to students who are not part of the scheme.  The loan devices cannot, however, be taken home.

Can’t I go and buy a cheaper computer on the High Street?

Yes, almost certainly.  But this isn’t just about the device.  The iPads for Learning scheme we are proposing will provide the loan of a device that we feel is ideal for the classroom – lightweight, portable, with a ten hour battery life and a range of outstanding apps that will allow learners to be far more creative, and interact to a greater extent than is possible now.  School-provided iPads will also have the benefit of fully comprehensive insurance and a warranty.  Data will be backed up on the school network, so in the event of damage, fault or theft, a replacement iPad will normally be available within a few days, with all data and apps restored.

What happens if a child leaves the school before the end of the scheme?

The parents can either return the iPad or make a residual payment to keep it, determined by the market value at the time.  No refunds can be made for monies already paid, however.

What about students who already own an iPad?

You can either choose to join the school scheme or bring your own iPad into school, providing it is an iPad Air or newer.  The school will, for a small charge, install the same apps that will be on the school-owned iPads, as well as software to allow access to the school’s filtered wireless network.  Parents are responsible for insuring the device.  We cannot take responsibility for home owned iPads, however, and they will not supported by our technical team.  Any insurance claim for damage or theft will be the responsibility of the parent.

What if an iPad is damaged, stops working or is stolen?

We insist on an approved case being used at all times to minimise the chance of accidental damage.  School-funded iPads are covered against accidental damage, theft and breakdown.  A small number of swap out iPads will be available, pending repair or replacement.

What about parents who don’t want to be part of the scheme?

We will invite parents to a meeting to discuss their concerns, and if they are still unwilling to participate, we will make available an iPad for the student to use in school, but not take home.

Why should I donate if others don’t?

We can only run this scheme if parents want it and are prepared to contribute.  While a small number of families in difficult circumstances can be accommodated, unless there is widespread support for the scheme, then the school will not be able to provide it.  If you are interested in supporting the scheme, please encourage other parents to do so as well.

Supposing I change my mind in a few months’ time?

This would give the school a big problem as our decision to purchase the iPads, cases, apps, insurance and warranties will be based on the initial level of support from our parents.  Changing your mind half way through would compromise the school’s finances.  This is a commitment to your children/our students that needs to be seen through.

Will Ofsted be able to observe learning when iPads are in use?

Following the January 2017 inspection, Ofsted commented:

'ICT is used effectively to support learning.  Each student has access to a tablet, which is used in a range of ways to support lessons and other activities.  For example, pupils can complete and submit work for teachers to mark online, use their tablets as whiteboards for quick-response questions and use them instead of textbooks.  Pupils find it motivating and enjoyable using tablets, and say that the instant feedback it can provide is really helpful.'

Why choose the iPad and not a cheaper device?

The sheer volume of iPads bought by education in UK and US schools hints at their popularity: 500,000 in UK schools, with 30% of schools having bought them.  4.5 million iPads have been bought by US schools.  Reasons include excellent educational support from Apple; software that allows iPads to be finely controlled by schools, eg some teachers can remotely disable the camera for their lesson if they feel it will be a distraction.  Schools receive a 50% discount on bulk purchases of apps, which can be deployed remotely without having to collect iPads in. 

The AppStore is much more highly regulated than the equivalent for other platforms.  Apple has developed a range of innovative software that is set to revolutionise learning eg iBooks Author and iTunes U.  Apple Distinguished Educators are available to train staff to get the best out of iPads.  No other platform offers anything close to this.

What if I have more than one child in this year group?

We are able to offer a 20% discount if there are two or more students in the same family as we recognise the financial pressure this can cause.

How will using the iPad impact on the quality of students’ hand writing?

Students will still be expected to hand write work.  There will be no need to word process all their work, and the majority will still be completed in exercise books.  However, there are many advantages to word processing some work on the iPad using an app such as Pages.  Students can spell check their work, look up definitions, add electronic notes and email work to their teacher for faster feedback.  With work backed up on the school network, and available anywhere there is a wifi connection, leaving an exercise book at home/school is no longer such a problem.

Exams still take place on paper, so how will iPads help with this?

Trial exams and practice papers will still be handwritten.  Exam papers will be available online and feedback from the teacher will be electronic in much the same way as exams are actually marked by exam boards.

How will the iPads for Learning scheme affect homework?

A device that can be used both at school and at home can improve continuity of learning, with all the resources needed available in one place.  Parents can play a greater part in supporting and understanding the work that students are doing in class.  We currently use the 'Show My Homework' app that is accessible to parents and students, so even if a student forgets what homework has been set, they can be reminded of it easily.  Worksheets are often made available electronically through the app, removing the dreaded "I left it at school" scenario.

How will you measure the impact of iPads on learning?

In a recent survey of parents and carers (June 2017), improvements in students' motivation and organisation were recorded by many.  Students particularly like the rapid feedback that is possible when an app like Showbie is used and their knowledge is tested with a quiz app such as Socrative or Kahoot.  Many parents also felt that preparing students for the workplace of tomorrow is essential. 

Will students spend all day staring at a screen?

In most lessons, iPads will only be used as and when needed, and in some lessons may not be used at all if they don’t enhance the learning in that topic.  An Ofcom survey in 2012 found that, on average, 12-15 year olds spend 17.1 hours online a week.  With purposeful use of the iPad for learning, some of this online time may become more productive!

What will a typical lesson look like?

Students will still write in exercise books, answer exam style questions, including writing essays, and use paper or digital textbooks.  When it is appropriate, students may be asked to take a quick online quiz, using the Socrative app to test prior knowledge.  They may research the background to a topic using the Safari browser; use the video camera to film some groupwork or role play, or email another student a photograph of work in progress for peer assessment.