The ‘no-tech’ School Where Screens Are Off Limits – Even At Home

The London Acorn School, located in the picturesque Morden area, is set in a beautiful parkland and accommodates up to 84 students up to the age of 14. The school, housed in a listed National Trust building, implements a no-tech or lo-tech approach to education, prohibiting the use of computers, the internet, smartphones, and iPads. Even parents who enroll their children have to promise to adopt the same restrictions at home, both during the term and holiday periods.

Many parents are worried about the effects of screens and new technology on their children, so London Acorn School is attractive to them because of its unique brand of education. The school prides itself on luxuriating in the simplicity of woodwork and nature trails, with children making their exercise books and using elegant, looping handwriting. The students in the woodwork room construct impressive closet pegs and an old-fashioned lathe for the workshop.

Investing heavily in technology and computers in classrooms do not improve pupil performance, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study. Such technology may even harm children due to “pernicious” outcomes of the exposure to popular culture. A child will not be allowed to watch TV before the age of 12 and internet access is prohibited for those under 16 at home and school. Only documentaries pre-vetted by parents are allowed for children under 12, while screenings of films are only granted from the age of 14. For students over age 14, computer usage is confined only to the school curriculum. These restrictions make the Acorn School particularly tough for families and children who have already experienced mainstream public schooling and have seen technology as a defining aspect.

Students’ parents and guardians, including new members like Kevin Burchell, whose daughter Carmen joined the school last year, must exclusively adopt this lifestyle. Acorn School’s methods proved to be effective, according to Burchell, as his daughter Carmen adapted well to the no-tech philosophy. Although she became irritated because of these restrictions, Carmen gained a new hobby, which she loved: sewing. Her imaginative capabilities have increased, and she has more time to engage in other activities.

Four out of six 12 to 14-year-olds expressed their desire to have more access to new technology. Janice Moore, mother of Zoe and Amy who attend the school, opted for Acorn after witnessing friends’ children experience success at a similar school sans technology.

Moore’s husband belonging to the IT sector, the couple believes in technology according to the child’s age. Incessant use of technology can impact the child adversely; the couple owns electronic gadgets but discourages playing with them. According to them, playing outdoors is enough to keep the child engaged for hours.

Moore has no concerns about depriving her children of essential digital skills as she believes that there is a high probability of them becoming outdated in the future. Acorn school’s teaching philosophy is heavily influenced by the Steiner education system, which also discourages the use of screens till age 12.

Andrew Thorne and his wife, Sarah Fanconi Thorne, the founders of Acorn school, earlier sent their children to a Steiner school; however, they were unhappy with some of the fundamental principles, so set up their own school. Sarah Fanconi Thorne stressed on her love for technology but not before children reach a specific age group.

Acorn school aspires to open an upper school building program computer systems.

Teacher and behavior specialist Tom Bennett, leading an educational reform, recently expressed concerns about technological dependence in classrooms. While schools should expose children to current technological trends, he stresses on the importance of not compromising cultural and academic values while doing so. Bennett advises school administrations to find ways of integrating technology in the learning process.


  • joaquincain

    Joaquin Cain is a 39 year old school teacher and blogger from the United States. He has a passion for education and is always looking for new and innovative ways to help his students learn. He is also a big believer in the power of technology and its ability to help improve education.