School’s iPad scheme explained

CLEVEDON School will become the largest UK school to introduce iPads for all its pupils if parents agree to the scheme, according to the deputy headteacher.

Currently there are only five schools that have made the step so far, with Clevedon hoping to be the sixth.

Parents are being asked to consider paying more than �500 over three years to allow their children to have their own iPad for use in lessons and at home.

Information evenings were held this week, when parents were told a package including insurance, a warranty and technical support would cost them a maximum of �16 per month over three years. After this, the device would be theirs.

The Valley Road school has been trialling the popular tablet computers since May and, last month, sent a letter to parents detailing plans to roll them out.

Prior to this week’s meetings, parents submitted 250 questions covering issues including security, insurance, technical support, the possibility of mugging, controlling Internet access and the fact pupils would just use them for games.

During the meetings, deputy headteacher James Bowkett said password-activated parental controls can be implemented and that the tablets will be insured for malfunction, loss and theft.

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Parents were also told how all data is automatically backed-up and can be accessed even if a device is lost or stolen. Data can also be wiped remotely to prevent someone else accessing it.

To enable the project to go ahead and for the iPads to be operated wirelessly, Clevedon School will soon spend �100,000 on installing a brand new, high-specification wi-fi network. This will be controlled so Internet access can be switched on or off, class by class, to prevent pupils going online when they should not be.

Families without broadband at home will be helped by the school so pupils can use the device at home. Children receiving free school meals will have an iPad bought for them and families with multiple children could be eligible for discounts.

During this week’s meetings Mr Bowkett was keen to emphasise the iPads will not be used to replace traditional teaching methods.

He said: “The iPads allow you to find a snippet of information and blend it in with the rest of the lesson.

“We want to provide the best support for students.

“Would you like to work in partnership with us to help the students get the best tool?”

Currently there are more than 40,000 educational applications covering a huge range of topics available for use on the iPad. These include apps to help pupils organise their work and timetable. There are also 100,000 iBooks available for free.

Parents will now be contacted to find out how many will take part in the scheme.

After that, the school will make a decision on whether to go ahead with the project, which could see the iPads introduced in the summer term of next year.

The school also plans to hold information evenings in the spring term for parents of year six pupils due to join the school next year.