At Berkhamsted, we are committed to pupils using mobiles devices to support their learning through appropriate use in school and at home. Alongside this, we believe that we have an educational responsibility to help young people manage how and when they use new technologies and thus have always taken an approach that we would rather 'educate' than 'ban',
So working within this context, the Senior Leadership Team this afternoon grappled with the thorny issue of how we approach the issue of 'Wearable Technology' (such as the Apple Watch) in school. It was a thoughtful and lively debate:
On one level, it would appear that there is little difference between having a fully connected mobile device in one's pocket and on one's wrist, so why the fuss?
Well, we decided that there are two reasons why a watch poses additional issues:
- First, from a teacher's perspective, wearable technology is very difficult to police. When necessary, it is relatively easy for a teacher to say 'your phone needs to be in your pocket/bag', it becomes much more difficult to ask the class to remove their watches.
- Secondly, from a pupil's perspective, wearable technology is less easy to ignore. The buzz of a phone on vibrate mode in a pocket or bag is out of sight and sometimes earshot - whereas the temptation to catch up on a text/ or social media update is almost impossible to ignore when it's on your wrist.
So, we took a middle way: not banning, but discouraging wearable technology in school: our mobile device policy now has an additional paragraph as follows:
Berkhamsted School Wearable Tech Policy:
- If Wearable Tech is worn in lessons or in public areas around the school, the ‘Do not disturb’/’flight mode’ should be activated.
- Wearable Tech must not be worn in exams as this will result in disqualification. Exam Regulations do not allow any device capable of mobile communication.
- Our strong advice is that pupils should not bring Wearable Tech devices to school, because they are likely to be a greater distraction than other mobile devices.
- If a Wearable Tech device is deemed by the teacher to be causing a distraction around school, it is liable to confiscation until the end of the school day.