Headteacher’s Blog – Week 27

Distraction, danger and disputes

I’m sat here writing this blog on a Saturday afternoon in school (at least it’s not sunny outside)! We have opened our Broadway doors for our year 11 students to come and have a quiet place to revise away from distractions.

I’m pleased to say we’ve got quite a few students here today.

As I mentioned last week, the main distraction for me aged 16, was my younger, noisy siblings or wanting to go out with my friends instead of studying at home. But times have changed and by far the biggest distraction our young people face these days is technology.

Whether it be Snapchat on their phones, netflix on their iPads or Fifa 18 on their X-Box, prising our teens from their technology is a constant battle.

Distraction is just one likely harm caused by technology; another is the potential danger that our students are putting themselves in. Social media can be the channel by which our children are subjected to bullying, grooming or radicalisation. It can force children into isolation, cause doubt about their self-image and encourage them to learn about the darker side of adult life much earlier than they should.

I’m not saying technology is all bad! In fact, most of the students in the classroom next to me are working on the school computers completing coursework (last minute lads!) and revising on websites that have been exceptionally well designed to prepare our students for the forthcoming GCSE examinations.

I am aware that technology is moving at a pace, far faster than I can keep up. I wish I was more tech-savvy. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are all vehicles to market our school and celebrate the achievements of our students as well as communicating instantly and effectively with our parents and local community. On this I am making slow progress! Thank goodness for the likes of our younger and better informed staff.

Perhaps you believe we should relax our rule and allow students to have free use of their mobile devices during the school day? Not on my watch! It is not just because I’m a bit of a luddite, but I am committed to protecting our students from the dangers of technology, particularly online bullying during the school day. Unfortunately, I cannot do this when they leave school. I also feel that having access to their mobile devices will be a distraction they don’t need. School is hard work - there’s a lot to learn every lesson, every day and they need to be able to concentrate. The forthcoming exams will total around 33 hours of sitting in silence, concentrating and regurgitating all the knowledge they have accumulated over the last five years.

And of course, there’s the disputes caused between students and staff when they do have their mobile devices out in school. Our rule is simple - students cannot have their phones out from the school gates at the start of the day to the school gates at the end of the day. If a member of staff sees a student with their phone out, it is confiscated and handed to reception where they can collect it at the end of the day.

So how much time should our young people be spending on their digital devices? Noël Janis-Norton, a parenting coach and author of Calmer, Easier, Happier Screen Time, says parents need to set their own guidelines, and wean their children away from screens gradually. “If a young person is in front of a screen for six hours a day, then getting it down to three hours is a huge achievement. I recommend focusing on times of day; for example no screens before school, no screens at mealtimes, no screens at bedtime.”

Easier said than done, I’m sure. But by having a timetabled approach will be better preparing them for many careers, like teaching, where they are unable to have their phone by their side. You may even be brave enough to try a digital de-tox in your family?

If you feel that the school can help you to help your child with any issues caused by technology, please get in touch.

Finally, a few updates from last week:

I had a brilliant day out with the year 10 GCSE Geographers on their field visit to Salford Quays on Thursday. The students were excellent ambassadors for the school and I was really proud to see them approaching members of the public for their views on the regeneration of the Salford area.

On Tuesday, I met with some of our feeder primary headteachers to talk about ways in which we can build on our current transition work with year 5 & 6. We also discussed how I can convey the message to our primary parents that Kingsway has changed for the better since they were students here. Our results continue to improve, and our students successfully progress to some of the best colleges and universities in the country. If you are a parent impressed with what our school has done for your child, please drop me an email (headteacher@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk).

I received an inspiring email last week from a colleague at Loreto sixth form college who advised that they have been participating in a mooting competition with the University of Law over the last couple of months. Mooting is the skill of making a legal argument on a point of law in front of a judge. The final took place in front of a very scary QC who was more than happy to interrupt the advocacy of our students! Loreto was represented by ex-Kingsway students Niamh O’Shaughnessy and Keira Golds who were crowned champions and have won a mini-pupillage at leading Human Rights set Doughty Street Chambers as well as a humungous trophy! Niamh O’Shaughnessy also won the individual prize for the outstanding advocate on the night. Well done girls, you did Kingsway proud!

Niamh O’Shaughnessy and Keira Golds

To top off a great week, on Friday, I popped in to a year 7 boys PE class where they were having their dance lesson. Yes, dance! Under the excellent tutorage of Mr Duffy and Mr Howarth our year 7 boys have all been strutting their stuff to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and other 80’s hits. See them live below.

Have a great week everyone!

Mrs J. Lowe

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