School that spent 500,000 giving its pupils iPads admits that HALF are now broken
Honywood Community Science School gave iPad2 to its 1,200 pupils a year agoAdmits half of the costly devices have been broken
00:42 GMT, 1 January 2013
00:58 GMT, 1 January 2013
A school which gave out iPads to every pupil in hope of improving their education has admitted that just a year later half the costly devices have been broken.
Honywood Community Science School dished out iPad2 tablets to its 1,200 pupils a year ago, at vast cost to the taxpayer.
Despite warnings that children would not be able to look after the fragile computer tablet, the school in Coggeshall, Essex, allowed children to take the device outside the classroom, playground and street and home at evenings and weekends.
Expensive: Honywood Community Science School in Essex admitted that half the iPads given out last year have been broken
It was hoped that the iPads would be a useful learning tool, as well as keep the school up to pace with international competitors embracing the technology in the classroom.
But after just one year, more than four in ten of the iPads had been sent off for repair, after being knocked, dropped or scratched. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal 489 had to be replaced after being found to be beyond repair.
About a fifth of those sent for repair – 112 – had to be sent back more than once.
Pupils said in some of the younger classes, around half the class had broken their tablet at least once, and some as many as three times.
Despite the threat of confiscation after three tablets, ultimately none were taken away from pupils.
The school said the iPads have helped improve pupil discipline and exam results
The school argues that since introducing the devices, it has seen improvements in pupil discipline, attendance, and exam results.
Apple, the manufacturer of iPads, is said to be aggressively targeting the school market and at the time headteachers were accused of ‘falling for a gimmick’.
Honywood, which gained academy status last year, giving it greater control over its budget, gave out the tablets last September, at an estimated cost of 500,000, or 400 per iPad.
Parents were asked only to pay 50 towards insuring the device.
At the time headteacher Simon Mason said the investment represented 2.3 per cent of the school’s budget, and did not want to publicise the scheme for fear of putting the safety of pupils at risk.
On the latest figures, he said: ‘The breakage rate resulted from using a recommended case which was insufficiently robust. Since replacing cases this year, breakage has fallen to 1.2 per cent.’
He added: ‘Exam results at the end of our first year of using tablets were the highest in the school’s 48-year history.
‘Attendance has risen and we’ve seen our lowest rate of fixed-term exclusions for ten years.’
Peter Inson, a former school headmaster and a commentator on education, said the breakages were hardly surprising.
He said: ‘In my view you cannot expect children of 11 and 12 to be responsible for a delicate gadget.
‘They are still running around using jumpers for goal- posts and being generally rambunctious.’
Handing out equipment without expecting the parents to contribute financially only increases the likelihood of something being lost or damaged, he added.
Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Buying technology for schools has to be about educational results, not just trying to appear cutting edge for the sake of it.
‘Not many parents would trust their 11-year-old to look after such an expensive piece of kit so it is wrong for the school to do so just because taxpayers are picking up the bill.’