BYOD Case Study: The Arnewood School Academy
What are the potential benefits and challenges of introducing a Bring Your Own Device policy into a secondary (high) school? In this, our latest case study, we look at the experience of The Arnewood School Academy in England.
The Arnewood School Academy is a secondary school in the New Forest town of New Milton, in Hampshire, England. An 11-18 school, it has a total student population of 1200, including 240 in the Sixth Form. The proportion of students eligible for free school meals is below average. Most students come from White British backgrounds, although there are an increasing number of students from other ethnic groups – indeed, 10% of students have English as an Additional Language, and 25 different languages are spoken in the school. The number of students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is below average, including those students with statements of special need.
Arnewood has achieved the ICT Chartermark for Excellence, and has a scheme which ensures that all students have a laptop.
Arnewood Academy describes itself as “networked”, ie the staff has normalised the use of the digital in their everyday teaching and is collaborating authentically with parties outside the school walls and professional teachers in the teaching of the young.
Interestingly, the school has only recently started to adopt, or at least consider, a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. However, that bald statement belies the amount of groundwork and, if you like, ethos, that has supported this toe-dipping into unknown waters.
From the response to the online questionnaire and a follow-up discussion with the Headteacher, Chris Hummerstone, Arnewood can very much be described as a learning institution. Its approach may be summed up in the old aphorism, “Make haste slowly”. Small scale pilots, along with a willingness to hear about and try a variety of approaches, characterise Arnewood’s approach to ICT.
For example, it has had a digital leader scheme in each Year group for the past three years, is looking into games-based learning and has adopted performance targets such as “listen to boys reading from their Kindles”.
It’s important to mention all this by way of background because no BYOD scheme can be born fully-formed. There has to be a period of planning, trying things out, getting the support of all concerned and finding out what other schools are doing.
From November it is intended that some Sixth-formers will take part in a “Bring what you use” project, and digital leaders participation will be extended from Year 11 (15-16 years old) to Year 7 (11-12 year olds). In the meantime there will be further staff awareness-raising and training.”
So why consider BYOD? There are the potential tangible benefits of reduced expenditure on ICT – although there is a feeling that because of the necessary investment in security the savings, at least in the short-term, may not be as great as one might suppose.
But there are the slightly fuzzy potential advantages, such as flexibility, the ability to deal with the pace of technological change and the fact that smartphones are likely to be even more powerful in the future, facilitating educational change in themselves as new possibilities suggest themselves.
A BYOD approach has also come about because the school is seeking innovative solutions in a positive learning environment.
It is to early say what the challenges of implementing a BYOD programme might be, although two possibilities present themselves.
First, there is the matter of the digital divide, even though only a small proportion of students don’t have their own device or access to the internet from home. The school is tackling this through giving all students access to the school’s ICT facilities throughout the day, including at breakfast time and after school; having a reserve stock of equipment for daily use at school; and using the Pupil Premium to assist with home access and hardware.
Second, there is the need to implement a robust and secure infrastructure to support a BYOD approach in such a large school.
It’s interesting how there is no unique right way for a school to go down the BYOD road (or, indeed, any other road). I recently visited a school which, on a planned day previously known only to staff, announced that a school-wide BYOT approach was now in operation.
Arnewood’s approach of taking a long time before even starting to implement the scheme seems to be at the opposite end of the spectrum.
It will be interesting to see how both schools have fared in a year or two’s time!
For further information about the school please visit http://www.arnewood.net