Far Out Friday: Why this school banned technology

by Robert Ballantyne02 Oct 2015

The surge of tech devices entering schools has been the cause of intense debate, namely whether or not schools are matching these devices to their students’ learning needs.

However, one school in London prohibits technology from its classrooms altogether – something it says is necessary for the academic growth of its students.

Acorn School prohibits its students from using any Internet, TV, smartphone, or other tech device until they reach the age of 12. The charter of the Acorn School, founded in 2013, reads:
“We are against all forms of electronics for small children, and only gradual integration towards it in adolescence. That includes the Internet. In choosing this school, you have undertaken to support that view, no matter what you may feel personally.”
And the school’s policy on technology is not just limited to the classroom.
Children are also strongly encouraged to avoid any interaction with television, mobile devices or computers whilst their at home and even on holiday.
In the digital age where technology occupies a central place in almost all areas of modern life, it might seem counter-intuitive for a school to take this approach. After all, technology makes students more resourceful learners…right?
This isn’t the view of Andrew Thorne, a founding director of the school.
“The purpose of the ban on technology is to allow children space to grow. So instead of turning them into consumers of technology and television, they have to learn to create their own activities,” Thorne told the Telegraph recently.
“It is about encouraging creativity so that the children are active creators rather than passive consumers.”
Some parents are worried about how excessive screen time might be impacting their child’s cognitive development – and with good cause. One MIT professor’s research showed that frequent use of technology can actually impair the ability of children to hold a conversation and build empathy.
In fact, a study by the London School of Economics suggested that banning mobile phones at school was worth the equivalent of an extra week of classes in terms of students’ development.
In September, the OECD released a report showing that increased investment in computers and technology at schools had not boosted student learning outcomes.
Rather than trying to seek out top-end tech and ambitiously match gadget to goal, Acorn School is simply matching book to brain the old fashioned way.
So how is the school’s curriculum working out for its students?
As part of their inspection, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (OFSTED) checked the school’s quality of curriculum, teaching, achievement and behaviour, and gave each a score of ‘outstanding’.
“Pupils’ outstanding achievement is the result of an outstanding curriculum, outstanding teaching, and a holistic approach to learning and personal development that is centred on pupils’ physical and emotional well-being and their moral and spiritual development,” the report stated.

Could it be time to rethink the relevance of technology in our schools?
HAVE YOUR SAY: Does the use of technology in classrooms lead to improved learning outcomes?