Parents are wary of technology, says independent headteacher

TES, 18/03/15, Some parents are unsure about the increasing use of technology in the classroom and prefer their children to use pen and paper, according to a leading independent school headteacher. HMC member Tricia Kelleher, principal of the Stephen Perse Foundation features.

Tricia Kelleher, principal of the Stephen Perse Foundation in Cambridge, said that parents “want to see lever arch files with lots of notes”, and often prefer old-school techniques to cutting-edge practice.

“They want to see neat learning that they recognise, because that was their learning, but actually that’s not what learning needs to be for tomorrow," she told the Sims Independent and International Conference in Berkshire.

Ms Kelleher said her school’s location in Cambridge – increasingly known as “silicon fen” because of its growing technology industry – reminded her and her colleagues on a daily basis of the need to prepare students to succeed in the digital age.

The school has put technology at the centre of its approach and provides iPads for all pupils, although teachers are free to decide how to use the technology, if it all. It has trained its teachers to create online courses using interactive resources that are shared using iTunes U. These are then made available for other schools.

Ms Kelleher said she had faced a lot of questions about how the technology would improve pupils’ grades, but insisted that this was the wrong question.

“You should be asking, how is technology going to enhance pupils’ lives?” she said.

Ms Kelleher also said “character and thinking skills” were as important for students as “knowledge and understanding”.

“We’ve got to stop thinking about children as receptacles that have to be filled up,” she said. “It’s far more complicated than that.”

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