Parents want booklists for new term and not new iPads
A group of parents at Ratoath College have warned they will not buy iPads for their children and will be seeking a book list for first years starting school this year.
The parents agreed they wouldn't buy the tablets at a meeting on Monday night.
Parent and former teacher and inspector with the Department of Education and Skills Nicola Kearns said concerns over health and education has prompted their action.
She said 80 parents who attended Monday's meeting were disappointed that they had received no response to a petition signed by 738 people.
Meanwhile, Cllr Nick Killian, a member of the school's Board of Management said the dispute is causing divisions within the community.
"I would have real concerns that when the first years start school on 21st August, some will have iPads and some will not. "I have written to the Board of Management calling for another meeting of the Board to look at what will happen on 21st August," he said.
An independent review of the use of IPads instead of textbooks will start in August, but its recommendations would not be available in time for the new school year.
Cllr Killian, one of the founders of the school said the Board said he had been advised that it was not possible to have a review carried out in time for the new school year, but the finding would be implemented for the school year starting in 2020.
"I care deeply about this school. Inviting the board to a public meeting is now the way to sort out this issue," he said.
A number of parents called on the school to postpone their iPad teaching policy for this year's incoming first years until a thorough review is carried out, as they are concerned that replacing textbooks with iPads for the junior cycle is harming their children's education and their health.
They estimate that since the policy was adopted in 2014, parents have spent close to one million euro on iPads for their children, which they say can only be bought and serviced through one provider.
"I am hugely concerned that students have to condition themselves to learn through iPads until Junior Cert and then have to almost relearn how to use and reference text books again for Leaving Certificate years," said Ms Kearns.
"The latest scientific reports such as the Stavenger Declaration concludes that students don't interact with text in the same way when reading on screens as they do with printed books.
"They tend to skim-read longer pieces of text when using digital devices and so don't actually absorb as much information as they think. New findings also suggest that they are less likely to be able to really engage with the text and take notes to help comprehension."
"We are not against technology. I really feel that technology has a place in the classroom and it can enhance learning and teaching, but only when used selectively to complement traditional
teaching methods and in line with the school's digital plan."
She also raised other health and safety issues including eyestrain, screen addiction and security breaches.
"We want is our concerns to be listened to and the iPad policy to be suspended immediately for this year's first years until the proposed consultation process is concluded and a new policy is agreed."