Frequently Asked Questions
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How do iPads enhance learning?
Every student at Blenheim needs to be prepared for a world with digital technology. Blenheim’s goal continues to be for every student to receive the best possible education, including having access to top quality digital technology. When used to support traditional classroom based learning, one to one technology such as the iPad improves feedback between teacher and student, aids collaboration and encourages creativity. Focused and personal study becomes easier with the range of educational apps available, resources from the internet, e-books and Showbie that allow students to easily access subject content. The role of technology in remote learning through the iPad enables students to continue their studies seemingly both school and at home.
Students have been using iPads in Blenheim for many years and their independence, creativity and problem-solving skills have all developed as a result. Up to date information about student homework and highly personalised feedback from staff is available through the use of many school Apps, meaning staff and students have been able to work closely together to develop new ways of teaching and learning.
Do the iPads have to go home every night, or does this present an unnecessary risk to younger students?
The iPads should be taken home each day if maximum benefit is to be gained from the scheme. 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.
How much does the scheme cost?
Blenheim has invested significantly and is constantly upgrading the school’s ICT infrastructure specifically to prepare and support the use of the devices. The school has a super-fast wireless internet connection, supplied iPads and training to staff and has a significant technical support team.
Blenheim receives no Government funding for the iPad for Learning Scheme so asks parents/carers to contribute to the costs. The cost of the iPad package is competitive, but such an ambitious scheme cannot run without financial support from parents/carers.
How does the parental contribution scheme work?
Two consecutive schemes operate over the five years of a Blenheim student’s education. The first provides an iPad in Year 7 and 8 (KS3) and the second provides an upgrade to a new device at the beginning of Year 9 in readiness for GCSE years (KS4).
Parents can sign up to the iPad for Learning scheme through the school website portal. We will write to parents with full details of how to sign up.
At the end of each scheme, providing all payments have been received by the school, they will own the device.
What happens at the end of the scheme?
Schemes started from 2019
At the end of both the two year (year 7 and 8) and three year scheme (9,10,11), providing all payments are up-to-date, the iPad becomes the property of all parents/carers.
Schemes started 2018 and before
There are two possibilities, you can hand the iPad back or make a small payment to keep the device. The market value payment at the end of the scheme will depend on which model of iPad is supplied by the school. Parents will be informed of the market value payment to own the device towards the end of the scheme.
Are the parents who agree to contribute subsidising those who can 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?
There are a large range of tablet computers available, some cheaper than the iPad. Blenheim chose the iPad for the following reasons:
- Managed Apple IDs allow a high degree of control over the iPad.
- Blenheim’s Mobile Device Management (MDM) system is able to remotely manage the iPads, pushing apps out, monitoring battery capacity and iPad memory, as well as locking an iPad where necessary.
- The iPad is proven to be reliable and durable and is by far the most widely used tablet in education worldwide.
- Software from the App Store is high quality, carefully vetted and there is a huge range of free and paid educational apps.
- Through Apple’s Volume Purchasing Program, Blenheim is able to get up to 50% discount on apps.
- Many families already own an iPad, iPod or iPhone, so are familiar with the technology.
- Apple TV and software such as Air Server, allow students to share their work with the class through the interactive whiteboard in each classroom.
What happens if a child leaves the school before the end of the scheme?
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.
What about students who already own an iPad?
In order to ensure all students have the most up-to-date iPad, apps and functionality provided by the school, students must have a school iPad. This is more cost effective for parents than purchasing a new iPad from the High Street.
What if an iPad is damaged, stops working or is stolen?
Blenheim provides an approved case to all students and insists on it 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.
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.'
What if I have more than one child in this year group?
Discounts are offered to Pupil Premium and Free School meal students and will be automatically applied once parents/carers have signed up to the scheme.
From 2021 we are no longer offering sibling discounts for new enrolments to the 5 year programme. This is due to budgetary restraints and an increase in costs to the school.
How will using the iPad impact on the quality of students’ hand writing?
Students still write in exercise books, develop their handwriting skills, use text books and dictionaries and read ‘real’ books. The iPads for Learning scheme works in collaboration with traditional reading and writing teaching methods to develop students’ digital skills. The student exercise book is the primary medium for learning, complemented by the iPads for Learning Scheme.
Exams still take place on paper, so how will iPads help with this?
Tri-weekly and termly Key Assessments, trial exams and practice papers are still handwritten. Practice exam papers may 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 does the iPads for Learning scheme affect homework?
A device that is used both at school and at home improves continuity of learning, with all the resources needed available in one place. Parents play a greater part in supporting and understanding the work that students are doing in class. We use the 'Satchel One' 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.
Does it mean more game playing and screen time?
Blenheim encourages safe, responsible use of technology in order to prepare students for the world outside of school. Students joining the scheme will be provided with a Managed Apple ID. These Managed Apple IDs are created and controlled by the school, so resetting passwords is easy, and no set up by students is required.
Students will not be able to download games or access the App Store, iTunes, YouTube or the iBook Store. This ensures the iPad is principally a tool for learning.
It is important to set clear expectations for iPad use at home and it is strongly recommend that parents/carers establish clear guidelines around where the iPad is used and for how long each day.
IPads should be charged overnight in the kitchen and not left in students’ bedrooms where it can be a distraction.
What will a typical lesson look like?
Students 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.