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Biggleswade Academy

Biggleswade Academy

Frequently Asked Questions

We have done our best to answer the questions and address the concerns parents have come to us with since we announced our Y5 & 6 Mobile Learning Scheme. Questions have been grouped by themes. If you feel we have missed anything, please get in touch. You may also find it useful to refer to the booklet given out prior to the information evenings (click here for the digital version).

I have no choice in whether to take part in this project and / or my child will lose out if they don't take part. 

This is an optional project for parents and there will be no pressure from the school to force parents to sign up at any point. Clearly we believe there are huge benefits to pupils from taking part, however where this is not possible we will do everything within our power to ensure all pupils have maximum appropriate access to tablet devices within school. What is clear, is that as a result of this project access to such devices for all pupils in Years 5&6 will be dramatically enhanced and therefore benefits will be felt by every child.

I am not sure I can afford an iPad for my child? / What if I have more than 1 child who can take part in this scheme? / I'm eligible for free school  meals - what can you do to help? / I'm not eligible for free school meals, but will still struggle - can yo help me?

If you believe finance is a barrier to your child having the same opportunities with this project as other children, we will be sending details in September of how to contact the school to find out how we may be able to help with payments. 

We have spent a lot of time trying to ensure we choose the best supplier to provide iPads for parents if they wish to use this scheme.

This work has centered on achieving good value for money, the option of monthly payments and the easy provision of services such as insurance and warranties which parents indicated were also important to them.

Unfortunately it simply isn’t possible for the school’s resources to provide an iPad for each and every one of our children; however we have committed to ensuring there is funding available to support those who need it to make sure that all pupils have an equal opportunity to benefit from this scheme.

If your child is eligible for free school meals or any other part of Pupil Premium funding, the school could potentially help you with up to 80% of the cost. 

If you believe finance is a barrier to your child having the same opportunities with this project as other children, we will be sending details in September of how to contact the school to find out how we may be able to help with payments.

Cost is a really emotive issue for many parents and we fully understand this and want to provide help as much as possible where it is really needed. Unfortunately, people have widely different views on who we should and shouldn’t support and it is therefore extremely difficult to provide a scheme that will satisfy everyone.

We are clear within school that this project is all about giving each of our children the maximum possible life chances and the best education possible. We therefore ask families to be honest with the school about what help is needed and we will endeavor to help to the fullest extent we are able.

I'm worries that my child will not be safe carrying their iPad to school.

Again, there appear to be widely differing opinions here. Many parents believe this to be a ‘non-issue’, others that it is a most serious flaw of the scheme. What we do know is that this has caused some parents serious concern and have therefore worked to develop the following options:

  • The whole 1-1 project is optional and therefore you can choose for your child not to have a device with them and to access devices already in school whenever possible.
  • You can chose for your child to have a 1-1 device, but to leave it in school where we will lock it away safely.
  • You can chose to drop your child and their ipad off at school and collect them, as many parents currently do (and some currently do for musical instruments).
  • You can choose to allow your child to walk to and from school, but drop off and collect their ipad for them. Different parents have suggested to us that they would be happy to do this daily, weekly (as some also currently do for musical instruments) or simply at holiday times.

In addition to these measures, we have also been in touch with Biggleswade Police who have been extremely supportive in working with us over an extended period of time.

The Police feedback to us is that:

  • Issues of theft ‘from the person’ are exceedingly rare within our town and basically unheard of relating to children. Regularly updated details can be found by clicking here for further details.
  • That they could see no reason why our children carrying iPads should impact negatively on these occurrences.
  • They will continue to work closely with us to ensure the ongoing safety of our pupils. This will include providing updates of any rise in the specific types of crime relevant to our pupils.

In addition, they have offered to give a briefing for concerned parents and pupils in order to answer any relevant concerns and queries.

Furthermore, they will continue to support our work to develop e-safety and work with us to ‘infra-red’ tag all devices if required, to further aid the recovery process should loss or theft occur.

Are the children ready for the responsibility of looking after an iPad?

We believe that the use of technologies such as iPads will become increasingly important in both educational and business worlds in the coming years.

Children’s access to devices and the amount of responsibility and freedom they are given with them is likely to change as they grow and as they become accustomed to using the devices.

We will work with parents to judge the degree of freedom and responsibility pupils have within school, but it is for parents to judge how this works at home. There is no need for iPad rules to be any different to those already used by many parents, for example:

  • Setting Broadband filters to ensure no inappropriate content can be displayed
  • Limiting the amount of time spent on devices
  • Only using devices in family rooms, not in private

At school from October , pupils will be allowed to take their iPad into their classroom when they arrive at school and during breaks and lunch times they will leave their iPads safely in their classrooms.

Access during lesson times will obviously be regulated and supervised to avoid unnecessary or inappropriate use.

Will the iPad be safe in school?

We absolutely believe so. iPads will be kept in classrooms when not in use and when classrooms are empty, they can be locked.

All our blocks automatically lock at break and lunchtimes to prevent entry to pupils.

In addition, should an iPad be mislaid, our ‘Mobile Device Management’ infrastructure also gives us the option to track and locate iPads.

I'd like to see how the scheme goes and/or use Christmas as an opportunity to purchase an iPad for my child. Is it possible to buy an iPad in January?

Parents are free for their child to enter the scheme at any point they wish.

Whilst the ‘purchasing portal’ to use our chosen supplier will only be open at the beginning of the academic year, devices purchased personally can be integrated at any point.

If my child has their own iPad will they have to share it with other children in the class who don't have one?

No. Any pupils who do not have a 1-1 device will be provided for by the school to the fullest extent possible with no need for pupils who have provided their own to reduce their own access.

Am I going to have to start to pay for educational apps for my child as well? / What if my child wants to add their own apps and games to the iPads?

Any app required by the school will be provided by the school and ‘pushed out’ directly to devices by our mobile device management system. These apps will remained owned by the school and will be ‘pulled back’ and redistributed to other children as appropriate to support their learning.

By taking a ‘layered’ approach to Mobile Device Management, parents and children will also be able to add their own choice of apps to the devices as well. However, in the event that devices are full, educational apps must take priority. (It’s worth noting that any apps purchased by parents remain ‘owned’ by their user account and can be reloaded at any point space allows).

However, any apps provided by the Academy and deemed essential, must remain on the iPad at all times.

What if the iPad is broken at school?

Parents have a choice as to whether they wish to cover their child’s iPad on their home insurance, a separate insurance scheme (such as ‘insure my bubble’ or the like) or to purchase separate insurance through the schools chosen supplier.

We would highly recommend that parents do choose an insurance which covers theft and accidental damage to cover all eventualities.

I’m worried that my child will be:

  • looking at a screen all day
  • will not learn how to write
  • will not develop the necessary communication skills

This is a really key educational point and one which we cannot stress strongly enough.

We believe tablet computers to be one of a number of ‘learning tools of our day’, to be used together for best effect.

We will continue to develop all other forms of learning alongside our use of technology, but will use technology as appropriate when it will improve the quality of learning outcomes or experiences for pupils.

We also anticipate running parents evenings to provide practical feedback on how the devices are being used, how they can be best used between school and home and provide assurances that wider educational gains are not being sacrificed through this scheme. 

If I have a laptop at home will there be anything which I can do with my child at home?

We will continue to use our current methods of communication with all parents to involve them as fully as possible in the educational life of their child. These will continue to include the provision of support materials for homework, relevant web links, videos and other such useful connections which can be used on devices other than tablets.

In addition as the project progresses, we will also seek to develop additional ways of securing the enhanced degree of personalisation and resource sharing we know 1-1 tablet devices can deliver for other devices.

How do I know my chid will be safe with unrestricted access to the internet?

When used at the Academy, all 1-1 devices will be on the same filtering system as our fixed PCs, ensuring their level of filtering is age appropriate.

Our Mobile Device Management infrastructure also provides additional layers of control for the school to be able to control device access remotely.

In addition, e-safety has been growing in curriculum profile for some time and this will become more central to our work as the year progresses.

Again, we anticipate providing parents evenings to share information on the ways that home and school can work together to keep our children safe online.

How do we pay through the portal once it has benn set up?

There will be a meeting provided by the suppliers to provide you with all of the information required to do this successfully.

How will I set up the iPad?

You will be provided with step by step guidance related to this.

Will the iPad mini still be fit for purpose at thr end of Year 8?

Whilst the newer the product is the further into the future it will be able to continue to support updates and the latest features of the ‘iOS’ operating system, we believe that the iPad mini will remain perfectly competent at managing the core tasks which will be set in school.

What will happen once the storage on the device has been used up?

It is true that media rich content such as videos files could easily fill the storage capacity of the iPad quickly, we will be encouraging the pupils to be mindful to remove unnecessary files and back up key pieces of work frequently. Their school email address provides them with 30gb of ‘cloud’ storage space. Work can also be transferred to the school network periodically.

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