Schools are removing analogue clocks from examination halls because teenagers are unable to tell the time, a head teachers’ union has said.
Teachers are now installing digital devices after pupils sitting their GCSE and A-level exams complained that they were struggling to read the correct time on an analogue clock.
Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said youngsters have become accustomed to using digital devices.
“The current generation aren’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations,” he told The Telegraph.
“They are used to seeing a digital representation of time on their phone, on their computer. Nearly everything they’ve got is digital so youngsters are just exposed to time being given digitally everywhere.”
Mr Trobe, a former headmaster, said that teachers want their students to feel as relaxed as possible during exams. Having a traditional clock in the room could be a cause of unnecessary stress, he added.
He said that schools are trying to make everything as “as easy and straightforward as possible” for pupils during their exams.
“You don’t want them to put their hand up to ask how much time is left,” he said.
“Schools will inevitably be doing their best to make young children feel as relaxed as the can be. There is actually a big advantage in using digital clocks in exam rooms because it is much less easy to mistake a time on a digital clock when you are working against time.”
A number of teachers shared their experiences about the issue on social media, following a presentation on the topic at the Partners in Excellence conference in London.
Cheryl Quine, a head of department at Cockermouth School and chair of the West Cumbria Network, added that her school discovered that children are having problems telling the time “when some couldn’t read the exam room clock”.
By the time students reach secondary school it is assumed that they will be able to read a clock face, although in reality this is often not the case, Mr Trobe said.
“It may be a little sad if youngsters coming through aren’t able to tell the time on clock faces,” he said.
“One hopes that we will be teaching youngsters to read clocks, however we can see the benefit of digital clocks in exam rooms.”
Earlier this year, a senior paediatric doctor warned that children are increasingly finding it hard to hold pens and pencils because of an excessive use of technology. Sally Payne, the head paediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust, said that when children are given a pencil at school, they are increasingly unable to hold it.
“It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes. Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil.”
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