Behaviour in Scottish Schools & Education Technology and Society

Behaviour in Scottish Schools 2012 research was commissioned by the Scottish Government and carried out by Ipsos MORI, the third in a series of reports into behaviour in Scottish schools since 2006. The aim was to provide a clear and robust picture of behaviour in publicly funded mainstream schools and of current policy and practice in relation to managing behaviour.

The researchers looked at the experiences and perceptions of almost 5,000 individuals who work in schools – headteachers, teachers and classroom support staff. It asked them questions about positive behaviour, low-level disruptive, and serious disruptive behaviour.

As my own research interests sit within the scope of education technology and society, I am very interested in how these can be married to the Better Relationships, Better Learning and Better Behaviour report published by The Scottish Government.

An element of the research found that Secondary teachers and support staff had seen a rise in the ‘use of mobile phones and texting’ in the classroom and an increase in pupils using mobile phones abusively. I recently wrote an article for Edudemic on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) (Dunn, 2012). Most of you will know my feelings on this, both from a personal disposition and also from a professional perspective. Social networking is now part of our society, whether we like it or not.

Part of the report includes the role of technology e.g. smartphones, social media and internet safety. I am really pleased that the scope of the report includes this. There are some recommendations:

  • Develop and publish guidance on the safe and responsible use of personal mobile technology in schools, which will recognise the role that social networking plays in people’s lives, and take into account wider issues of internet safety and the 2013 ICT Excellence Group report;
  • Guidance should be used to develop LA/school policies on the safe and responsible use of personal mobile technology with the involvement of whole school communities (staff, pupils and parents);
  • The Scottish anti-bullying service, respectme, will continue to raise awareness of bullying and will provide training for organisations on how it can be tackled.

There is also mention that: Parents and carers should be engaged as partners in ensuring the consistency of approach to promoting positive relationships and behaviour between home and the learning environment.

I am always wary of this type of discussion when made at Government level, for the simple reason that the realities of practice must be taken into account. Luckily, recommendations from the ICT Excellence Group Report have been included, for this group consists of level headed and experienced practitioners grounded in educational technology.

Given that each local authority and school will now be embarking upon a policy driven approach to technology, I only hope that common sense prevails. We must educate our children and young people (from an early age!) to use technology responsibly as citizens. I’m sure that I read this somewhere within a Curriculum for Excellence document? I am not naive and I know that this is a challenging prospect. It is a cultural shift and one which will take time to shape.

The biggest piece of the puzzle, still missing for me, is the in depth research required to establish exactly what that culture is across Scottish secondary schools. The attitudes of our young people and the way in which they use technology today MUST be considered in any policy design, otherwise there is a danger of a) presenting a barrier to learning or b) exposing our children and young people to the dangers of the internet and loss of privacy.

To this end, I believe that some investment must now be made to address the use of mobile technology and social networking across the country. It may be, in the near future that I establish a steering group of interested professionals and experts to look into such research in our schools.


Academic Staff University of Glasgow and Author of Science Fiction

Posted in Education Studies, Learning & Teaching, Reflecting, Society, Technology Enhanced Learning

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