The Blog

Why Work, Rest and Play Could Become the Mantra to a Quality Education

With the end of the school term upon many of us and the summer holidays getting underway, pupils and educators alike will be looking forward to some respite from what can be one of the most intense periods in the academic year.

With the end of the school term upon many of us and the summer holidays getting underway, pupils and educators alike will be looking forward to some respite from what can be one of the most intense periods in the academic year.

During term time, it can be a real challenge for parents to make sure their children strike a healthy balance between their school work and downtime. And with our children spending more and more time outside of school attached to their phones or logged on to social media and gaming websites, some might argue that equilibrium is much more difficult to achieve than it might have been in years gone by.

Schools are becoming increasingly aware of the pull of technology on children and young people. So much so that in some schools, getting the work-life balance right is seen as fundamental to helping children make good progress in their learning.

Nurturing the whole child

How many of you read the recent news story about Cheltenham Ladies' College, where a ban on homework is being considered to help reduce levels of stress and anxiety among its pupils? It was reported that a key aim of the initiative is to put the wellbeing of pupils on an equal footing with academic outcomes.

The piece suggested that smartphones, tablets and laptops were making it difficult to keep stress from the outside world coming into the college and that the potential of children cannot be maximised if they are unhappy or stressed about things in life.

This got me thinking about how much more healthy and productive all our lives might be if we spent a little more time away from technology. To find out, we decided to do a little experiment in the SIMS Independent offices.

The impact of modern life

My team was set a week long task to leave all technology behind during their lunch break. That's right, no phones, tablets or other mobile devices, so there was no temptation to catch up on emails and social media over your sandwich or salad.

We also wanted to reduce the volume of emails that were being sent across the business - as well as cut down on the number of people who are copied in to each message - so we asked everyone to think about who really needed to know about it before they pressed send.

As part of this, we encouraged people to have more face-to-face conversations with each other, rather than simply pinging an email to someone who was over the other side of the same office or sitting in the next department.

The results of this experiment were rather interesting. Most people reported that during work time, they were able to be much more productive because they could focus on the task they were working on and had fewer distractions from technology. I myself had substantially fewer emails than usual, yet did not feel out of touch with what was going on as a result, despite being away from the office for several days.

A couple of my colleagues took the whole experiment to the next level, conducting their internal team meetings outside while walking together in the fresh air. They were so surprised at how much more productive their conversations were that they plan to continue this as far into the winter months as is practical.

Although there were one or two of us who struggled to unplug completely, the overall experience was a positive one and a success as far as improving the wellbeing and productivity of the team. Is it time for us to look at the impact technology could be having on our children's school life?

Getting the balance right

The debate over whether being wired to mobile phones and online devices for long periods of time puts additional pressure on children and young people will likely rage on. But as the story on Cheltenham Ladies' College highlights, the question is one of balance.

When technology is used in a sensible and appropriate way, it can help to enrich teaching and bring learning experiences to life for our children. But isn't it equally important that they get the opportunity to learn how to achieve a healthy work-life balance - both in their studies and as they move through each stage in their education?

This could be a vital lesson in ensuring that they are well prepared to thrive and succeed in tomorrow's global world of work.

For more information about SIMS Independent, visit