Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Mobile Device Policy: Use of Mobile Devices in School and in Public Examinations

Changes in the JCQ regulations mean that pupils who do not have a Specific Learning Difficulty who use a laptop as their "normal way of working within the centre" accrue a right to use laptops in public examinations:
“Centres are allowed to provide a word processor with the spelling and grammar check/ predictive text disabled to a candidate where it is their normal way of working within the centre, unless an awarding body’s specification says otherwise. This also includes an electronic brailler, an iPad or a pc tablet.” 
JCQ General and Vocational Qualifications, Instructions for conducting examinations 1 September 2012 to 31 August 2013. Section 8.8 p.24 
This potentially has enormous consequences for schools who move to BYOD. Clearly not all schools will want to go down the route of increasing the number of pupils taking examinations on "word-processors" (the exam regulation term).It is down to each school to define the "normal way of working within the centre"
Given our increasing litigious age, it is prudent for all schools to have a Mobile Device Policy which defines "normal way of working" for that school, lest pupils and parents demand that they be allowed to use laptops in public examinations.
At Berkhamsted, we moved to allowing our pupils in Year 10 and above to bring in their own devices for work in School in September 2012. Here are some some key sections of the policy, which cover the use of mobile devices in classrooms and of "word-processors" in public examinations by pupils who do not have SEN:

Berkhamsted School Mobile Device Policy 

Use of Laptops and Portable Devices in Lessons 
  • Pupils who have a professionally assessed Special Educational Need or Disability may use laptops in lessons, where there is a formal recommendation for laptop use. 
  • It is only in exceptional circumstances that an Early Years or Key Stage One pupil would be permitted use a laptop in lessons. 
  • Pupils in Year 10 and above may use laptops in lessons. 
  • Pupils may only use Smart Phones in lessons, with permission of their teacher – and only when instructed to do so. 
  • Recording of Lessons: Pupils may not record lessons or any part of thereof, unless instructed by their teacher to do so. 

Use of Laptops in Examinations 

Liability Issues 
  • Pupils and parents should understand that using a Laptop in an examination is not without risk. 
  • The School shall use reasonable endeavours to ensure the Laptop is suitable for use by the pupil in an examination, is in good working order prior to any examination and is capable of operating by its own power source if necessary. 
  • Unless negligent, the School accepts no responsibility for any malfunction or failure of a laptop to operate properly during an examination. 

The Use of Laptops in Examinations for Pupils without a Specific Learning Difficulty 
  • “Normal Way of Working within the Centre” Berkhamsted Schools Group defines “normal way of working within the centre” in the following way: 
  • The candidate must have used a laptop for at least 15 months prior to the public examination. 
  • The candidate must use the laptop for at least 75% of their work in both in class and preps in each subject to qualify for examination laptop use. 
  • Candidates who opt to use a laptop in public examinations are not required to do so in every subject. Candidates are advised to use a laptop only in appropriate subjects under the guidance and recommendation of subject teachers. For example, a candidate may apply only to do their public examinations in “written subjects” on a laptop and to do examinations by hand those subjects which require specialist notation or have a greater numerical or diagrammatic components. 
  • The cost of providing “clean” laptops will be passed on to Parents in the form of a charge on their termly bill.
  • The school will provide this service on a non-profit basis. 
Applications for laptop use 
  • Candidates must apply in writing to the School Examination Officer by the date specified at the start of the academic year for each public exam session. 
  • Candidates must specify in which examinations they intend to use a word processor. 
  • Candidates must provide evidence of continuous laptop use for the specified period. 
  • Candidates must attend an IT training session to learn to use the exam word processors effectively. 
  • Forms for this purpose are available from the School Examination Officer.

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