Bring your own device (BYOD) for learning in schools
Bring your own device (BYOD) for learning in schools

Bring your own device (BYOD) for learning in schools

– adoption and good practice at Gillotts School

[Small piece originally published by Kit Logan in the Learning Technologies Unit blog as an example of good practice.]

The central idea of BYOD is that individuals use the technology that they bring with them to school or college. The school or college does not need to provide the computers, tablets, smartphones for individuals to use in class, just supply the environment that allows users to use their technology collaboratively or just for individual use.

BYOD itself was introduced as a workplace practice by Intel in 2009 (Vickery 2015; Laird & Lingenfelter 2014), originally with a view to employees bringing in their own laptops and soon advanced with the explosion of laptops, tablets and other mobile smart devices that individuals started to use. It was only natural that within a short space of time the BYOD concept was also explored for use in educational settings (McLean 2016; Siani 2017). Gillotts School, a coeducational secondary school for 900 pupils and with academy status in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, is a case in point where they took a conscious decision to use BYOD in their teaching practices.

The school in 2013, working in conjunction with a consultancy firm, looked at what additional provision they could give their students with regard to support and use of information technology. At the time there was a lot of pressure for schools to opt into buying Apple iPads, laptops or similar in bulk as well as the supporting Wi-Fi infrastructure. Gillotts School following visits to other schools using this approach, including a flagship school for this type of technology, were left unconvinced about investing in dedicated technologies. The disadvantages including

  • A large initial financial outlay.
  • Ongoing costs of upkeep of the individual devices.
  • Cost of renewal/update of devices.
  • Additional staffing/human resources required to maintain the devices.
  • Only having a limited number of devices for students, so they would always have to be shared. Even if there was a device for each student in a class, their use would have to be scheduled for specific classes. Teachers would be restricted in lesson planning by whether the devices were available or not.
  • Always running the risk that a device or devices were not Including the constant risk of battery powered devices not being put back on charge.

Gillotts School took the alternative route of providing a local Wi-Fi network infrastructure to support multiple devices and allow pupils to use their own smartphones and devices but in a controlled way by setting rules. (“Gillotts School” n.d.)

  • Only allowing devices to be used in lessons for tasks specifically requiring a smart-phone or device.
  • Devices are not to be used during lessons for other things. That is pupils need to be put devices away unless they are part of the lesson. There is a traffic light system for pupils which teachers use: Green – Free to use their devices,
    Amber – Devices must be closed and face down on the desk,
    Red – Devices must be out of sight.
  • Pupils are strongly encouraged to use the school’s protected Wi-Fi system. Although there is no way to stop pupils from connecting to the internet via their own 3G/4G signals this sometimes has advantages if there is a poor WiFi signal or teaching being undertaken away from the school.
  • Pupils can use their phones at lunchtime and break under an acceptable use policy. For instance, students are not allowed to make phone calls and/or making audio/video recordings. Because of the possible benefits and uses of having information online or electronic and saving on paperwork, it’s acknowledged that students could just be checking their timetables and other relevant information.
  • Penalties for students breaking the rules.

From a teaching point of view, the school’s leadership recognise that staff have a mixed attitude to the use of technology for teaching, so they have taken the approach of allowing teachers to choose to use the BYOD technology if they want and also the software which they are most comfortable with that suits their subject area rather than restricting them to specific software, such as:

  • Google Forms for tests and then via Pixl for personalised feedback of tests results
  • OS Maps
  • Mathswatch, in particular the video clips
  • Photo interpretation
  • Google Classrooms
  • Educake – Formative assessment in Science and Geography
  • Seneca Learning – recall knowledge testing

The school also shares additional support materials for students that need help (e.g. writing frames and ‘handy hints’) which they can access via their devices without asking the teacher for help.

It certainly seems to be good practice as the approach and system is reported as generally well received and suits the school.

With thanks to Dr Ed Newbold, Deputy Headteacher, in the compiling of information for this article.



“Gillotts School,” “Bring your own device” (BYOD) – Gillotts School. Available at: [Accessed January 25, 2019].

Laird, J. & Lingenfelter, D., 2014. A Brief History of BYOD and Why it Doesn’t Actually Exist Anymore | Lifehacker UK. Lifehacker UK. Available at: [Accessed January 25, 2019].

McLean, K.J., 2016. The Implementation of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in Primary [Elementary] Schools. Frontiers in psychology, 7, p.1739. Available at: [Accessed March 11, 2019].

Siani, A., 2017. BYOD Strategies in higher education: Current knowledge, students’ perspectives, and challenges. New Directions in the Teaching of Physical Sciences, 12(1). Available at:

Vickery, N.M., 2015. Is BYOD Trend Fading? Technivorz. Available at: [Accessed January 25, 2019].

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