BYOT Case Study: Scargill Junior School

Scargill Junior School is a state school of 290 pupils aged 7 to 11, situated in an outer London borough close to the county of Essex. With 14% of pupils eligible for Free School Meals, this urban school is not in a wealthy catchment area.

The school is supported by the London Borough of Havering's School Improvement Service (HSIS), a runner-up in the BETT 2012 Awards for best ICT support provider.

Describing itself as being on the 'networked' stage of the continuum, Scargill school's current BYOT model consists of utilising a wide range of mobile devices in school in order to enhance and support the learning in the classroom. It started with Nintendos approximately 6 years ago. The school was looking to increase the capacity of technology in the school whereby there was maximum ratio of devices to children but minimum cost. It seemed that a large proportion of children had Nintendos so Scargill implemented a system where children brought them in with permission from parents and then used them in the classroom.

The key thing is to get children engaged! Photo by John Morgan what prompted Scargill to consider a BYOT approach in the first place? Three things: an Ofsted (Office of Standards in Education) inspection report which judged the ICT to be only 'satisfactory'; staff using ICT as a 'bolt-on' rather than as a matter of course; and an insufficient number of desktop computers – most of which were old anyway.

In addition, the school was given a Notice to Improve at the time for maths: the lessons were not engaging, children were not making sufficient progress and generally there was too much time spent on core subjects than the 'fun' lesson.

When the school found itself in a position to buy more equipment, it took a bold decision: instead of buying more PCs, which would only be used if the teacher felt confident and competent, why not let the children lead the way instead, by relying on their skill and knowledge?

Nintendos seemed the easiest most accessible option for the children, because a lot of them had them already, and the school supplemented them by purchasing a couple of PSPs as well. Also, the situation with maths meant the issue was about engaging the children in the learning as well as enhancing and supporting the learning, hence the decision to use Nintendos for Pictochat and for times tables and other areas..

Since embarking on this route three years ago, Scargill has diversified with the types of technology it uses. Nintendos are still used (they are timetabled on a weekly basis for each class), but the school also encourages innovation with any other device available such as I-Phones, i-Pads, as well as PSPs.

Interestingly, Scargill has only ever asked parents to allow Nintendos to be used in school; Scargill bought all other devices for use in school.

The biggest challenge is sustainability and keeping up with the speed of changing technology. Cost is prohibitive to an extent which is why Scargill is constantly looking to work with companies such as Apple in order to develop new ideas.

But does that matter if the school has a BYOT policy? Well, BYOT was a partial and, to all intents and purposes, an interim solution. Amanda Ireland again:

"We have actually moved away from children bringing their own in now as we have a sufficient amount in school to use in lessons. Also although Nintendos are still popular they are being overtaken with smart devices such as i-phones, i-pads etc. If a child's Nintendo was lost or broken then we could afford to replace it; this would be more difficult if it was a IPad or IPhone."

Scargill still uses Nintendos in class, they are timetabled, but is now looking at changing the skills set and the slant of our work to teaching the children to create their own apps etc."

So will BYOT disappear completely from the school's "ecosystem". Not necessarily. Perhaps in a few years' time, when 'smart' devices are more common and no doubt less expensive, the school may return to a BYOT policy. As the saying goes: watch this space!