A Co Meath secondary school is to reverse its controversial iPads-only policy after a review recommended a greater use of books. 

The move, which is likely to have implications for other schools, has been welcomed by parents who campaigned for such a change. 

Ratoath College commissioned the independent review on foot of strong concerns by parents who led a campaign for change. The review has recommended that new first year students should not be required to buy an iPad, and that learning and teaching should be based on a "blended approach" involving both books and technology. 

The school said the practical implications of implementing the report's findings would now be examined. 

The development follows more than a year of controversy involving the school and a group of parents who were extremely unhappy with what they viewed as the schools over-reliance on technology.

Among their concerns was the fact that parents were obliged to purchase expensive iPads from one supplier only - a company called Wriggle - and that already-purchased iPads could not be used by students. 

They also expressed concern at research which showed that tablets should be avoided for certain kinds of reading.

The row and its outcome is likely to influence the approach that other schools will take to the issue of technology in the classroom.

In a statement, parents said they had campaigned for change because they believed that the use of iPads as a primary learning tool in place of physical textbooks was "detrimental to our children's education, health and wellbeing". 


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Concern over reliance on technology in schools


They said they were "delighted" that the independent review group had made recommendations that vindicated their experiences and concerns. 

In a statement the parents said it had not been easy challenging the status quo and that they empathised with parents faced with similar situations in schools across the country. 

"Parents are key stakeholders in their childrens' education" the statement continues, "and their voice deserves to be heard". 

"They should be encouraged to question how and why digital policies are being implemented and their impact on learning, attainment and health". 

The parents said they looked forward to seeing the report in full and to supporting the school in implementing positive changes. 

Ratoath College has said that a presentation will be made to parents and students outlining the full details of the report and the practical changes that would ensue. 

The review was carried out by Dr Anne Marcus-Quinn of the University of Limerick, former school principal Cora Dunne and former Department of Education inspector Dr Carl O'Dálaigh.