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You may have a number of questions you would like to ask about the one:one device scheme.  We have put together some questions and answers below, but if you do have any other questions, please contact us and we’ll be happy to advise.


For three years, leading up to September 2021, The Portsmouth Academy prepared for the introduction of mobile devices by speaking with other schools and learning from their experiences.  We have upgraded our network and WiFi to support and serve a large number of devices and have also invested time and effort in educating students in e-safety so that they are aware of how to use mobile technology responsibly and safely.  We have spent a long time thinking about how technology can enhance teaching and learning; in particular, how it can help students to ‘make learning last.’

During lockdown, we regularly surveyed parents and students about their views towards technology and their feedback on the use of mobile devices was encouraging.  They told us of a growing desire to maximise its potential and that is why we are moving forward with helping every child to have their own device for learning which is seamlessly linked to our network.

We are introducing our help to buy scheme to the parents of our new Year 7s so that we can grow 1:1 up through the school.  This will give everyone time to adapt to teaching, learning and assessment through technology and ensure that the devices really add value.  The next step after Year 7, will be to offer the scheme to the parents of Year 9s.
We have consulted with our Academy Advisory Board throughout the development of the 1:1 scheme.  They have been very supportive and can see how the use of digital devices in the classroom will support children to access their learning in many ways.  Our parent governors were extremely helpful in ensuring that the school considers all factors around payment plans, internet safety and wellbeing of screen time.  They were satisfied, that as a school, we have considered these areas.

Devices in the classroom

Your child will continue to experience a full range of subjects to ensure they have a broad and balanced curriculum.  The curriculum has been adapted slightly to include Computing at KS3 to build your child’s digital literacy and fluency.

Our training programme for teachers around the use of digital technology to assist learning began in the last academic years, and our staff have become well skilled in many of the tools a 1:1 classroom can offer.  At The Portsmouth Academy, we have teachers who are already Microsoft Innovative Educators and Microsoft Educator Experts, having undertaken formal training through the Microsoft Educator Centre. The school is on an incubator path to become a Microsoft Showcase school, which will place it on a global stage.

Within our Thinking Technology team, we have Microsoft Certified Experts, so are therefore able to train and coach our staff team in house via our digital training channel and whole Trust training events. We also work with the Tablet Academy for bespoke support on rolling out new applications.

There are seven skill areas and twenty-one desired skills that have been identified as needed for the 21st Century Digital Learner.  To support the development of these skills your child will be offered:

  • Before starting at The Portsmouth Academy, your child’s present school will be offered a series of training sessions to identify the skills they already have and develop the key skills that they will need to access blended lessons here at The Portsmouth Academy.
  • On starting at The Portsmouth Academy, your child will have a series of lessons in their timetabled computing lesson that aim to build on their skills and develop the new skills that they will need.
  • They will receive support in their lessons in two ways:
    1. Their teachers have been given training on the 21 skills and so will be able to support in all lessons where needed.
    2. Students that have been previously identified as ‘experts’ [The 21st Century Heroes] will be identifiable in each class to offer support if needed.
When you come to collect your child’s device early in September, you will be able to attend a workshop to help you understand how your child will be using their device.  It will also be an opportunity for us to outline some of the practical considerations of introducing devices in school and for you to ask any questions that you may have.

Our vision is for students and teachers to use technology in a blended learning environment, complementing existing teaching styles by using mobile devices to deepen and extend student’s learning experiences.

We continue to value the importance of ensuring that all students can read and write fluently and are fully numerate.  We see digital technology as an additional tool to help our children in these areas and make learning last.

The complexities of connecting many different types of devices to the network, and of trying to make sure that the IT support staff understand the different specifications of different devices, means that we have chosen to implement a consistent device.  We want every child to be able to connect quickly to the network, to get help and a spare device if theirs has an issue.  We want to make sure that learning is not interrupted by technology barriers.

Furthermore, it is very hard for teachers to plan lessons if they don’t know what devices and Apps they will have at their disposal.  We expect teachers to know the abilities of students and be able to provide suitable learning challenges for them.  They must know what digital tools are at their disposal and they also need to be able to teach students to use these tools.  It would be impossible for teachers to do this if there was a complete variety in the classroom.

We do have class sets of devices which have proven to be helpful in developing teacher skills and supporting students throughout the school to develop digital skills.  These class sets need to remain in different subjects throughout the school, so that all students can benefit from being able to access them.

The key benefit to being 1:1 is that students take their device from class to class, from school to home; they take their learning with them.  They can access learning anytime, anywhere.  This is what empowers them to master knowledge and become digital citizens.

The key difference between a smart phone and a tablet is that the former connects to the world wide web through a mobile phone network which cannot be filtered by the school.  As a result, students’ social devices, should not be used during the school day.

Lockdown learning has also shown how important it is to have the right kind of device to learn on.  Students need a proper keyboard so they can learn how to type.  They need a big enough screen to work on and to have multiple tabs open if needed, to organise their learning.  Smart phones are great for social interaction, but they are not a good enough learning tool.

Specification, purchase and device care

Our school has been using Microsoft products for many years now and have found them to be an effective tool for learning.  We have looked at many different types of device to help us decide which device gives us the best value for money and which is the best tool for learning and developing our digital skills to make learning last.  We have chosen an HP device that has been built specifically for education and learning – the HP ProBook X360.  This is a device that can be used in standard laptop form with a keyboard or used as a tablet with a touchscreen for finger or stylus.  It is a rugged device designed to resist spills and a reinforced keyboard.  As well as this, it has metal-reinforced corners for protection and has been drop tested to 122cm to be able to survive falling off a desk.

Due to the multi-form factor of the device, it easily flips and folds to suit your child’s learning.  Your child can learn in a way they prefer by typing, touching, writing, capturing, drawing and reading all on the same device.

The Portsmouth Academy is a Microsoft school using Windows 10 and Office 365. As Chromebooks are only able to run a Google operating system, Windows cannot be installed on a Chromebook.Whilst Chromebooks may look similar to a Windows laptop, there are fundamental differences in the way they work which limits how they can be used. Chromebooks have a small internal storage space (usually around 16G) as they are a cloud device requiring an active internet connection to access any documents. It is difficult to work offline using a Chromebook, whereas using Windows 10 and OneDrive will allow your child to work offline much more easily, use less data when accessing documents and work quicker and more efficiently with their files being stored on the device and synced to the cloud.

In addition, most Chromebooks use cheaper, lesser-known processors. The device we have chosen has an Intel processor as well as larger storage and memory capacity, with the benefit of the Intel processor being energy efficient, giving students more battery life.

The monthly cost for the scheme is £14. This covers the cost of the laptop, the stylus pen and a 3-year warranty. It also covers the cost of the loan swap out service. If your child’s device is damaged, or lost, they will be able to visit the swap out service (which will be based in the library at The Portsmouth Academy), and immediately get a fully operational device. This means that their ability to access the curriculum in lessons, will not be affected.

The suggested time period is 30 months for the payment plan. However, if you wish to have a shorter period, or indeed to pay the complete cost upfront, this can be arranged when you submit an application form.

For students who are entitled to Free School Meals, families will be subsidised by £9 per month, making the parental contribution £5 per month for 30 months. This is supported by the pupil premium grant that the government awards to schools.

The laptop comes included with a range of Microsoft applications that your child would need for learning in school and beyond.  The device is a Windows 10 device with critical security software – anti-virus, firewall & internet filtering.  Your child will also have access to the full Microsoft Office 365 (O365) suite paid for by the school, with the essential applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Teams just to name four.  We have access to much more software both installed and hosted on the web that your child will use for their learning.

Importantly, all this software will be centrally managed to ensure it is all kept up to date with the latest security updates and releases.  Making sure to minimise any distractions or loss of learning time.

Yes. After 30 months you will own the device. At this point, we will offer you a refresh option. So you can trade the device in for another discounted device. And your child will have a brand new one to take them through Key Stage 4.

After 3 years, the battery life of the device is likely to be much slower and so trading in for a new device on a new payment plan is a good option. When you child leaves the academy, we will transfer the management of the device to you so please be aware that the software will no longer be updated and the internet no longer filtered by us.

The device will have a school asset number to allow us to manage the stock of devices and to ensure we know which device your child is using.  In addition, it will be digitally marked to ensure the device can-not be used if it is lost or stolen.

To help ensure your child knows which device is theirs, we will be creating a label to go on the device where they will be able to put their name to help with day-to-day identification in school.

We understand that there may be circumstances that mean that this financial commitment is just not possible. We will be happy to discuss this with you during the July transition days and see what we can do to ensure that your child is still able to access the curriculum and develop their digital skills.

Managing the use of devices in school and at home

To use the device, your child will need a school username and password to be able to log on to the device.  They won’t be able to access the device without a TSAT username and password.  The device will automatically connect to the school network when onsite and ‘check-in’ with the management server to ensure it is updated and secure.In class, teachers will be able to monitor what programs your child has open and will be able to remotely lock the device if there is a need.  As well as this, our IT team (Thinking Technology) will be able to access the devices (but not your child’s data) if needed.

Students sign an ICT Acceptable Use Policy, which is countersigned by parents and instances of inappropriate behaviour when using the devices will be dealt with in much the same way as inappropriate behaviour of any other kind, according to the School’s sanctions.

All your child’s documents will be stored in the cloud using their Microsoft subscription.  Their documents will be stored in OneDrive and any submitted assignments in Microsoft Teams.  Not only does this ensure a document is saved whenever they edit it (if you have internet access) but also means they can access their documents and learning from any device through the The Thinking Schools Academy Trust Microsoft Portal.

In school, any internet activity is logged and filtered.  This is a legal requirement as a school to provide a safe and secure learning environment.  Your child will not be able to download any age-inappropriate material, access non-learning related websites, nor will they be able to install any third-party software downloaded from the internet to ensure the safety and security of their device.

At home, your child’s device will have internet filtering applied at a user level so they will not be able access any age-inappropriate material.

Your child will be expected to bring their device in fully charged each day. However, we understand that there may be circumstances that mean this is not possible. There will be charging points in the school that will allow your child to charge the device when not in use. The battery is rated for over 16 hours, so with normal usage throughout the day they will sometimes only need to top up charge. There will also be one or two plugs in each classroom specifically marked as charge points.
Your child will be expected to bring their device in fully charged each day. However, we understand that there may be circumstances that mean this is not possible. There will be charging points in the school that will allow your child to charge the device when not in use. The battery is rated for over 16 hours, so with normal usage throughout the day they will sometimes only need to top up charge. There will also be one or two plugs in each classroom specifically marked as charge points.
It is anticipated as your child’s learning becomes more and more digital so will the need to print.  If they need to, they will only be able to print at school using the school printers and accessed using their student ID card.

To access their documents on the cloud or access their learning in Microsoft Teams, they will need access to the internet.  Your child may be able to complete some of their learning at home without internet, but it is strongly recommended that they do have internet to ensure the best learning experience and enable them to complete learning when they want to.

Those families without WiFi or with concerns about network speeds should contact the school so that additional arrangements can be made.

The devices supplied are designed for learning and, as such, will not have any non-learning related software installed on them.  They will off course have access to the internet through a web browser and will be filtered whilst at home, but this does not mean the device has to always be used for learning.

As part of the device agreement you will sign as a parent, it is recommended that you will set expectations with your child about appropriate usage of the device.  As per our guidance, we would advise children to be using a device in open and visible parts of the house only, not bedrooms, where a guardian can monitor what they are doing.  Certainly not using the device on a bed or in a bedroom with a closed door.  We also advise establishing a routine where the device is checked by parents frequently.

The device is provided for their learning and to ensure they can take their learning with them.  Your child will be able to download documents to the device and open/edit these – we know that sometimes these won’t always be school documents.  If any of this is inappropriate content or interferes with their learning, it is expected that it is removed from the device.  Remember that all your child’s documents are stored in the cloud and a record of usage may be accessed in certain circumstances.

They will not be able to install their own applications such as games or offline streaming applications.

Safety and security

While students must learn to bear a large portion of the responsibility and look after their mobile device, we recommend that all mobile devices should be kept in locked lockers when not required for lessons. This will be especially important at lunchtime, when bags might be put on the floor and devices kicked or trodden on by accident.However, human nature being as it is, over time we do anticipate students may leave devices in their bags despite being advised to the contrary. As is the current advice, we suggest students have a small padlock on their bags to reduce theft of their belongings.

We will be talking to the students about ‘bag behaviour’ and putting coat hooks into classrooms where we can, so that students get into the habit of hanging their bag up and taking more care of it than they otherwise might.

We will be running a device swap-out scheme that will allow students to be able to swap their devices if it is broken or has a software problem.  As all the documents will be saved to the cloud, all they need to do is sign into the new device with their username and this will synchronise with the cloud to pull the documents down.  We will be monitoring the usage of this and consistent damage to a device may result in a cost to repair the device.
Many students currently carry valuable smart phones to school and are not under threat because of this.  We would recommend that students follow the same sensible precautions for personal safety as they would do at any other time.
Individual students are responsible for their own devices and should ensure that they always take care of them.  The normal disciplinary procedures apply in the event of damage to another student’s property.

Additional questions

If after reading through all the details which explain what we are doing and why we are doing it, you have any further queries or concerns, please contact: Mr G Stevens (Executive Business Manager) – g.stevens@tsatrust.org.uk.
Yes – part of the library is being converted into a digital zone that students can use before school, at break and lunch, and after school to do work on their devices. We have employed a new member of staff (our first Digital Champion), to be in this area and help any students who need support.

All core educational software will be provided by the school through our Trust.  If we install new software for learning, the cost will be covered by the school.Damage and replacement of the device will be covered by the school in the first instance (subject to fair usage and not deliberate damage).  Beyond this, any additional or repeat damage/repairs may be charged for.