It’s not every day I get a DM from the Ofsted press office so it’s only fair that I should blog about it.
Avid readers will probably be aware of this post from last weekend in which I questioned the evidence base behind a quote from Ofsted which was published in the TES as part of an article they were running on the use of technology in schools. I also questioned the use of a survey from Ofsted about the same.
So, DM arrived, emails exchanged, and Ofsted provided this clarification (which they have kindly given me permission to publish here):
Regarding the article in TES and the comments from the Ofsted spokesperson. I can confirm that it was indeed a genuine Ofsted press officer who supplied the comment, but unfortunately she and the TES reporter were at cross-purposes. We understood we were being asked about Ofsted’s position on pupils bringing mobile devices, laptops and tablets to school for purposes other than learning. Hence, the statement provided referred to the disruptive effect that tablets and mobile phones can have when they are used inappropriately by pupils – for instance to play games or to check social media. It was not meant as a comment on the use of tablets and other IT devices in a classroom context, to help pupils learn as part of a properly planned curriculum. We regret any confusion this has caused. I have since explained the misunderstanding to TES. Their reporter is not to blame for it.
Just for the avoidance of doubt – Ofsted is clear that technology can of course have a positive impact on a pupil’s learning experience (as noted in many of our reports) and we are not against the use of tablets, laptops or other devices in school when part of planned lessons. What matters is how the school manages the use of these devices. And it is up to school leaders to set their own rules about how tablets are used in their classrooms.
Which, as I said about Sean Harford’s response on Twitter, is as clear and unambiguous as it gets. Although one has to say that it is still odd that I couldn’t find any Ofsted reports where the “extreme disruption” caused by pupils bringing mobile devices was referenced. But still, baby steps.
And I was intending to leave it at that. Until a tweet arrived. From the TES Deputy Editor Ed Dorrell.
You can read the whole thread here if you want. One part of the thread is that the TES wanted me to correct something I never said. Obviously I can’t make a correction to something I never said, but we’ll leave that to one side and I’ll leave it to you, dear reader to draw any conclusions you wish from the exchange.
I would like to mention two things.
Firstly it is good to see that the TES have corrected the reference to the Ofsted survey from “nearly one in three secondaries now allow students to use their devices on campus” to “nearly one in three secondary students say they are allowed to use their devices on campus”. This more correctly reflects the survey question and results. Even if it is one for the stats geeks.
Secondly it is not so good to see that the TES has yet to make any amendment regarding the “extreme disruption” quote.
Now, these are obviously matters of interpretation upon which there can be genuine differences of opinion. I’m just giving mine.
As I read it the article is about the benefits or otherwise of Bring Your Own Device policies in school. The Ofsted quotes are clearly (as we now know) about the effects of misuse of technology in the classroom. However, unless you know that (and you’ll only know that by reading this post), within the context of the article I believe the reader is led to think they are general quotes about the use of student owned technology in school. And we know this is how they were originally interpreted from the Ofsted response above. I would respectfully ask that the TES consider if their use in the article properly reflects the view the quotes from Ofsted were intended to convey.
And now I really will leave it at that.
The comment box is below.
Knock yourself out.