Don't know much about History, Biology or French? Send a Text! - GCSE students get revision support via text-message

Students at Cottelsoe School in Wing, Buckinghamshire, are using their phones to aid their GSCE revision rather than distracting them from it in a new educational Text-Mentoring scheme set-up by the school and O2. The initial results from the pilot are highly encouraging showing students making an improvement of up to 55% in test scores when they get revision help via text messages.   Although Cottesloe School has beaten the national average of GSCE results for the 3rd year running, David Stevinson, the Deputy Head, was inspired to innovate by entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, to help his students continually improve. This year he introduced the concept of ‘Text Mentoring’ where students could SMS* their mentors if they got stuck with their revision.   As David Stevinson explains: “I knew that many students become stuck while revising. They will often give up and do something else instead, or continue their revision based on incorrect facts. It occurred to me that if they had some way of contacting a mentor immediately when they got stuck, they would be able to get the answer they needed and carry on with their revision.”   David Stevinson realised that while not all students had access to the internet, almost all of them owned a mobile phone and were familiar with text messaging – which made the mentors far more accessible.  He contacted O2, who offered technical and financial support for the initial pilot project.   Ben Dowd, General Manager Business Sales at O2 said: “We are very proud to be involved in an educational project like this, and always excited when our customers come up with innovative ways to use mobile technology to help their communities.  It builds on our commitment to educational initiatives such as our partnership with Weston Spirit which support and mentor young people.”   To protect teachers’ private mobile numbers, and in order be able to keep a record of the questions and answers for other students to reference, Stevinson worked with O2 to set up a web-site to receive text messages.  These queries were monitored by the mentors who can then respond through the web-site.   Initial tests with the school’s Science department showed that those students given Text-Mentoring improved their results on tests by up to 55% better than their class-mates who were left to revise on their own. Now over 40% of all students have signed up for the service.   David Stevinson concludes: “Schools need to be constantly seeking ways to improve learning support for students. While I know that many schools don’t approve of students having mobile phones in the classroom, that shouldn’t stop us from exploring ways to use them for a positive educational purpose. We’ve had a great response from students, parents, teachers and the governors. Other schools have already been in touch wanting to find out how they can roll this out themselves.”