An academy school has spent £100,000 equipping 600 pupils – with an iPod Touch.
Taunton Academy in Somerset is dishing out the handheld devices so students can access the internet and download apps to help with homework.
Teachers have also splashed out on 60 new iPad readers for classrooms – but insist the scheme is cheaper than forking out for a new IT suite.
Principal Mark Trusson said: ”We have spent no more money on this than we would have done on upgrading our PCs, which are out of date.
”It would cost about £50,000 for a new IT suite with 30 computers, but we can give out 600 of these for about twice that amount – it’s better value for money.
”Experience elsewhere suggests students respond to this idea – they don?t let them out of their sight.
”Staff need to use their classroom management skills with them as they would any other educational resource.”
The mixed pupil facility was formerly Ladymead and St Augustine of Canterbury School and became an academy in September.
It is sponsored by the Diocese of Bath and Wells and Somerset County Council – which is slashing budgets by 25 per cent following the Government’s Spending Review.
So far 190 students in year 11 have received their iPod Touch, which retail for around £150. Students in years nine and 10 will get theirs in the next few weeks.
The touch-screen devices can only access the internet via the school’s wifi network or at their home connection.
iPads for the classrooms
Pupils will be able store music, pictures, video and data files but social networking sites such as Facebook will be blocked.
Students can also source a multitude of software apps which will help them with classwork.
Pupils are asked to pay a £10 insurance policy and the devices will be security stamped with the school name to prevent them being re-sold on the internet.
The academy teamed up with Apple to buy the iPods at a cheaper rate and the global software giant has also provided training for students and staff on how to use them.
Each teacher was issued with an iPod Touch in the summer to get used to the machines and the school has also bought 60 larger iPads for its classrooms, which retail between £500 and £700.
Dad Owen Adams, whose two sons are in years seven and nine at the new academy, said he was fully behind the iPod idea.
He said: ”I am aware that not all children at the school have access to equipment like this at home, so with this initiative all of the children are starting with the same advantage.
”The school is giving our children a great opportunity to get to grips with the technology which will greet them in the big wide world.
”It is a struggle at the best of times to know what your kids are looking at online so I am glad to see that certain websites have been blocked by the academy.
”I am also pleased the Ipods have been clearly marked to discourage theft or attempts to sell them on.”
Mr Adams added that didn’t begrudge the kids using the hi-tech devices their own enjoyment – even for gaming.
He said: ”They all have to work so hard at school these days so why not let them use the equipment for music, surfing and games in their own time.”