Online safety has been a key consideration in the planning of our 1:1 programme.

We are taking steps to protect boys from damaging or inappropriate material.

The rapid rise of AI adds another dimension: while it offers opportunities to enhance boys’ research and refine their thinking, it also brings risks of plagiarism, of pupils failing to acknowledge the use of AI, and of over-reliance, leading to a reduction in critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The QE curriculum – alongside public examination and course protocols – will educate boys about academic integrity and the responsible use of AI.

We have also undertaken measures aimed at helping our pupils avoid problems such as eye-strain and fatigue, both for their immediate well-being and to prevent any longer-term health concerns from arising.

One advantage of the Lenovo device selected for the 1:1 programme is that it offers more variety in the way it is used than a conventional laptop, with a stylus, touchscreen and keyboard all at pupils’ disposal. This encourages greater movement, with the physical benefits that brings. In general, tablets will be flat on the desk during lessons and used with the stylus. This means that, in terms of posture, using a device is similar to using paper and pen. (We expect that many homework tasks will involve pupils typing their answers, while classwork will generally be handwritten with the stylus.) In line with our emphasis on ‘blended learning’ – a combination of traditional and technology-dependent practices – QE boys can typically expect to be switching between their devices and pen & paper during the School day. The School will continue to monitor posture and ergonomics.

The Lenovo device is small and light enough to be easily carried, within the case provided, in pupils’ bags. For both crime prevention and road safety reasons, we strongly advise boys to keep their device both in its case and in their bag at all times when coming to School and on the journey home.

Whilst at School, the device is only to be used as and when instructed by a member of staff. Boys will not be using their devices unsupervised at break and lunchtimes, for example. It is important that there is time to socialise off-screen, run around in the playground and attend a range of extra-curricular activities.

The School is, naturally, concerned about online safety, too, and has taken steps to safeguard pupils and ensure that the devices are used only for appropriate educational purposes. QE has invested in monitoring and safeguarding software provided by education specialists, Smoothwall. Protections offered by the software include:

  • The monitoring of pupils’ activity during lessons by teachers;
  • The monitoring and retrospective accessing of pupil communications made through Microsoft 365 applications such as Teams and Outlook;
  • An alert system, based on key words, that will automatically inform QE if a pupil has attempted to access inappropriate material, whether in or out of School;
  • A block on pupils downloading additional programs to their device, such as streaming and gaming apps.

The devices should also prove useful in helping to maintain mental wellbeing: they can be used by the boys to organise their learning, thus helping them stay on top of their studies. And they offer access to personal organisation and self-reflection tools, as well as to the School’s online bespoke tutorial system, through which tutors monitor boys’ progress and wellbeing.

The curriculum will set out both appropriate and inappropriate uses of GenAI – Generative AI, a form of AI that uses prompts or questions to generate text or images which closely resemble human-created content. The former might include a pupil using AI to help brainstorm and explore ideas, or to provide feedback on his work, giving areas for improvement. Examples of inappropriate use might include: not asking teachers’ permission to use a GenAI; or, if permission is granted, not citing the use of AI when work is submitted, or not reviewing the work for inaccuracies and AI ‘hallucinations’.

  • Further reading: the Joint Council for Qualifications recently published a paper entitled AI Use in Assessments: Protecting the Integrity of Qualifications. It can be accessed here.