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High School: Goldilocks and the appropriate use of technology

An update on last term’s “Breathing Space” policy, as well as a look forward to what happens next.

1501 hs 1

As you will know, for the second half of last term we trialled a mobile phone “Breathing Space” policy, with all students keeping their phones in their lockers between the beginning of Registration, at 7:45, and the end of lessons, at 2:30, each day. Throughout the second half of term we have discussed this with students, both in PSHE lessons and in Student Leadership Team meetings, to try to work out how we can all best work together to ensure that our students can learn to use ICT appropriately, but not allow this to detract from either our “safe, happy, supportive” environment or our “Great St Andrews Community.” You can read the Newsletter article I wrote about this by clicking here.

At the end of last term we asked all students and teachers to complete a "Breathing Space" Reflections Survey, and in Friday’s PSHE we shared the results with the students - the Student Leadership Team had already had a sneak preview at the end of last term.

It was pleasing to see that more students and teachers agreed than disagreed that the "Breathing Space" policy has helped to make students more active at break and lunchtimes (51% c.f. 22% for students, 87% c.f. 2% for teachers), that students have spent more time with their friends because of the "Breathing Space" policy (47% c.f. 26% for students, 86% c.f. 2% for teachers), that the "Breathing Space" policy has helped to create a Great St Andrews Community (29% c.f. 25% for students, 70% c.f. 4% for teachers) and that the "Breathing Space" policy has helped students to better understand the appropriate use of technology (37% c.f. 32% for students, 72% c.f. 9% for teachers), but it was also interesting that more students disagreed that the "Breathing Space" policy has been positive for learning (38% c.f. 30%), and teachers were much less positive about this aspect of the "Breathing Space" policy (37% agreed, 28% disagreed).

Discussing these results with the Student Leadership Team at the end of last term, many students highlighted examples of the "Breathing Space" policy interfering with their learning, for example by stopping them checking their homework on Moodle or checking their school e-mail during the day. We also discussed what we should do in Term 2 to maintain the advantages of the "Breathing Space" policy, but also to allow more of the appropriate use of technology. In Friday’s PSHE lesson each Tutor Group worked in small groups, and then as a Tutor Group, to create lists of appropriate, and inappropriate, uses of technology, thinking about apps/websites, times and places.

In the Newsletter article I linked to above, I referred to the work of psychologist Jean Twenge, and it was interesting to read a more recent article, published in the Guardian on Friday*, in which she wrote:

“Should we instead adopt a cold turkey strategy and just take teenagers’ phones away? The research suggests this is not a good idea. Young people who don’t use smartphones or social media at all are less well-adjusted than teens who use them a little. … Mental health peaks at an hour a day of device use.”

This is a reference to the Goldilocks Hypothesis, discussed by Andrew Przybylski (University of Oxford) and Netta Weinstein (Cardiff University), who argue that “moderate engagement in digital activities is not harmful” and that “it is possible that digital technologies, when used in moderation, afford measurable advantages to adolescents (including) avenues for communication, creativity, and development”.**

Having looked at each Tutor Group’s lists, I know that a lot of valuable discussions took place on Friday morning and I know that the Student Leadership Team’s discussion of all of these lists will be equally valuable. I will let you know what they conclude in a future Newsletter...

As promised in last week’s Newsletter, I have attached a pdf of the full High School Calendar for Term 2, which I know many of you like to keep on your fridge or somewhere easily accessible - please click this link to download it. Please also remember that the full High School Google Calendar is also always available on the school’s website.

Roo Stenning
Head of High School

*Tech bosses limit their kids’ time on smartphones: why shouldn’t we?

**A Large-Scale Test of the Goldilocks Hypothesis: Quantifying the Relations Between Digital-Screen Use and the Mental Well-Being of Adolescents


High School Calendar: Term 2

Monday 15th - Friday 19th January

Maths Art Week

Tuesday 16th January

Year 10 Parent/Student/Teacher Meetings

Thursday 18th January

Year 12 Parent/Student/Teacher Meetings

Friday 19th – Saturday 20th January

Harrow International Football Cup – Under 13 Girls/Boys

Saturday 20th January

Under 19 BISAC Tennis: Bangkok Patana School

Saturday 20th January

Varsity Girls Touch and Boys Rugby 7s: NIST

Saturday 20th – Sunday 21st January

FOBISIA Swimming Championships: Patana

Monday 22nd – Friday 26th January

Residentials / Mock Exams Week