The east London school that has convinced half of its GCSE students to give up social media

Teachers at an east London school have managed to convince more than half of their GCSE students to do the unthinkable – give up TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram for the next two months.

Out of 300 students at Cumberland Community School in Plaistow, Newham, 160 of them have agreed to delete the social media platforms and take part in compulsory revision sessions.

Throughout May and June, those taking part will no longer have access to Instagram posts, WhatsApp messages or Snapchats in the unusual social experiment. 

Many have also agreed to hand in their mobile phones while in school taking exams in a bid to boost their grades by avoiding any temptation or distraction.

Students are already reporting that the experiment is helping – student Dania Olajide, 16, from Tower Hamlets, said she now reads much more.

Deputy headteacher Amy Brown and headteacher Ekhlas Rahman, pictured in the school bus, hope the test will boost grades for the pupils

Amin Opayemi and Dania Olajide are giving up social media while sitting their GCSEs

Amin Opayemi and Dania Olajide are giving up social media while sitting their GCSEs

The 16-year-old from Tower Hamlets said: ‘Doing my mocks I was still on social media so tried to balance revising with socialising.

‘Now that I’m off social media I expect my grades to improve. This will be an interesting test to see if I do better than my friends who aren’t giving up. I think I will.

‘I spend a lot of time on Instagram, Tik Tok and Snapchat but so far I have not had many withdrawals.

‘I think this is a great idea by the school because it pushes us to be the best we can be. They are looking out for us.’

Fellow student Amin Opayemi, 16, from Beckton, said: ‘I already feel like it has helped me and it’s only been a few days. I have stopped procrastinating, checking my phone every five minutes while revising.

‘Social media is highly addictive and so you can easily get sucked in. You say to yourself you will just check your phone then an hour has gone past and you haven’t revised.

Students taking part in the test have been encouraged to hand in their phones in May and June

Students taking part in the test have been encouraged to hand in their phones in May and June

‘It has massively helped to clear my head as well. Once I put it down for a few days the desire to pick it up started to leave me.

‘I would advise all students who are serious about doing well on their exams to give this a try. It’s only a few months and could make a huge difference to their futures.’

Headteacher Ekhlas Rahman predicts the students taking part will see a significant uplift in their results.

He said: ‘As adults we know what a time thief these social networking site can be. For teenagers, the temptation is even stronger.

‘If you are tweeting or posting or whatsapping you are not revising. We predict it is going to make a huge difference, possibly an entire grade point in each subject.

‘We will monitor their progress against students not taking part in the scheme with similar grade predictions to see how they get on.

‘We are always looking for an extra edge to give our students the best possible chance of getting strong grades.

‘Newham is one of the poorest boroughs in the country so most of our parents cannot afford a private tutor so we provide it all for free, every day.’

The school also runs compulsory revision sessions for Year 11 pupils from 7am to 4.30pm every day. 

Since introducing compulsory revision sessions, Cumberland has become among the best in the country for GCSE exam results, with its Progress 8 score jumping an entire grade from minus 0.46 to plus 0.55, making it the most improved in the country.

Cumberland Community School is operated by the Community Schools Trust.

Chief executive Simon Elliott said: ‘I don’t think it is controversial to say that these phones are highly addictive. At a time when they need to be concentrating on their exams many are glued to their phones.

‘I am very proud of what these students and this school is trying to achieve. It takes a lot for a young person to step away from the crowd. They are pioneers.

‘I am not a betting man but a huge uplift in the exam results of these students is as close to a sure thing as you can get.

‘Their future selves will be very grateful they made this sacrifice at such a crucial stage of their academic careers.’

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