Tablet computers in 70% of schools (but no evidence of improved results)

The BBC is reporting a new study that suggests almost 70% of primary and secondary schools in the UK now use tablet computers but there is no clear evidence of academic improvement for pupils using them…

The study, commissioned by education technology charity Tablets for Schools, looked at a representative sample of 671 state and independent schools…

Tablets are now being used, at least to some extent, in 68% of primary and 69% of secondary schools, according to the study headed by Barbie Clarke of the Family, Kids and Youth research group.

But researchers found examples of much more intensive use. In 9% of schools, there was an individual tablet device for every pupil.

The highest use of tablet computers was within academy schools – much greater than in independent schools or other types of state school.

The underlying trend is for an increasing number of tablet computers in schools – among those not using them at present, 45% reported that they would soon be likely to introduce them.

Between 2014 and 2016, the number of tablet computers in schools is expected to rise from about 430,000 to almost 900,000.

But Dr Clarke, formerly of the University of Cambridge’s education department, says it is not possible to make a definitive connection between tablet computers and improved results.

Researchers cannot isolate the impact of technology as the specific cause of a rise in attainment.

But Dr Clarke says head teachers reported a positive impact.

And there is evidence that they help to motivate pupils who might otherwise be disengaged – and when pupils take home tablet computers it increases the involvement of families.

Dr Clarke says that the role of technology is going to grow in schools.

“The type of device might change, but it’s not going to go away. It will almost seem ridiculous if some of them are not using technology,” she said.

A separate study from the National Literacy Trust and Pearson, published on Monday, suggested that touch-screen computers were particularly useful in helping boys and poorer pupils to learn to read…

More at: Tablet computers in ‘70% of schools’


900,000 devices (the forecast for 2016), even at just £100 each, represents a spend of £90m but is anyone concerned that this represents a huge investment without any apparent evidence that they actually impact on learning? There are 8.2m children in schools in England (including nurseries) – if every one had a tablet costing £120 that would be a total spend of about £1b. But once every pupil in every school has got one, would we actually be any better off? Or are tablets such a big part of the wider world that we just have to have them in schools now? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove This is a bit misleading as it can’t be effectively measured. Personally I like tablets as a different option occasionally

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Free websites such as Kahoot have enhanced AfL in some lessons, but overuse makes the impact redundant

  3. 3Diassociates

    SchoolsImprove -use of tablets develop creativity, imagination, love of learning, opening world to YP? As well as enhancing “attainment”.

  4. 5N_Afzal

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove If it can’t be effectively measured then is it wise for schools to get all students to buy one?

  5. PaulGarvey4

    5N_Afzal andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Q Schools buy ex books, Is that an effective way of learning? A – you can’t separate out one thing.

  6. PaulGarvey4

    5N_Afzal andylutwyche SchoolsImprove The point is that it is impossible to separate out one thing and say ‘improvement’ is down to that.

  7. Janet2

    Tablets should be used for educational reasons (eg increasing motivation) and not by the misleading measure of raised ‘results’.  Are results supposed to keep rising indefinitely?  Could be a case that more ‘improvement’ is actually deterioration.

  8. PaulGarvey4

    5N_Afzal andylutwyche Millions will be spent. It’s not what they are spent upon, it is how the spending is used – hence governors count!

  9. garyhenderson18

    SchoolsImprove but are students better prepared for a tech world? And do the exams use tech or are they “traditional”?

  10. ramblecamp

    SchoolsImprove machines DON’T teach people. People do! Machines are a tool. Who calculates % without a calculator? #HumanRelationships

  11. ramblecamp

    SchoolsImprove machines DON’T teach people. People do! Machines are a tool. Who calculates % without a calculator? #HumanRelationships

  12. Sam_Peepz

    SchoolsImprove This misrepresents what a computer is or should be. A tablet is as much a computer as a mobile phone, or digital television.

  13. andylutwyche

    5N_Afzal SchoolsImprove Agree – learning/progress happens (or not) because of many factors. iPad impact impossible to measure effectively

Let us know what you think...