iPads are designed to be used with little or no set-up, but if you are using them predominantly in Special Education settings, some small tweaks can make a big difference to the playing experience. Marginal but noticable gains possible by making these changes in mainstream settings (NB: If you have an IT technician or someone else who is looking after the iPads you should probably ask them before making these changes. They might be kind enough to do it for you…).


a) Change the Passcode Settings

The passcode is the code you have to enter on some iPads every time you ‘wake it up’. This can waste time. You can change the settings so that the passcode is only required every hour, meaning you only have to enter it once at the beginning of the session.

To change the passcode settings:

  1. Go to the ‘Settings’ app’.
  2. Choose ‘Passcode’ > ‘Require Passcode’.
  3. Choose ‘After 1 hour’.

You could also consider changing the time the iPad is idle before it auto- locks. We use 15 minutes. Go to: Display & Brightness > Auto-lock


b) Turn Off ‘Multitasking Gestures’

Multitasking gestures allow users to do things like ‘swipe with four fingers to switch between apps’ and ‘pinch the screen to return to the home menu’. SEN users often trigger them by accident, interrupting the music, and it is usually best to switch them off.

  1. Open the ‘settings’ app.
  2. Press ‘General’, then ‘Multitasking’.
  3. Swipe the ‘gestures’ setting too off (from green to white).

c) Turn on ‘Guided Access’

Guided access allows the iPad to be fixed in a single app, and can de-activate any part of the screen. It works on all apps. This has two main uses: Firstly, it enables pupils with limited fine motor control to only trigger the parts of the screen that are appropriate. Secondly, it prevents pupils leaving the app to play on games, surf the internet etc.

To turn on Guided access (you only need to do this once),

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Press General > Accessibility > Guided Access.
  3. Switch on Guided Access, tap Passcode Settings then ‘set your four-digit passcode’.
  4. Choose a password. We use ‘0000’.

To use Guided Access:

  1. Open the app you want to use (e.g. Thumbjam).
  2. Triple-click the ‘home’ button (the physical button on the front of the iPad). This will open up the guided access menu.
  3. Draw around the areas you want to disable – they will turn grey – then press ‘start’.
  4. When you want to exit Guided Access mode, triple-click the home button again and enter your passcode.

Tip: If you forget your passcode, do a ‘hard reset’ by pressing the power button and the home button at the same time for 5 seconds. This switches the iPad off, allowing you to restart it with Guided Access turned off.


d) Lock Rotation

The ‘lock rotation’ feature stops the ipad from changing orientation (i.e.from portrait to landscape) when moved. It is useful when the iPad is on a flat surface or moving around a lot, but not often not needed.

To start ‘Lock Rotation’

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen (can be fiddly!) to open the ‘control centre’.
  2. Tap the ‘lock rotation’ icon- a picture of a padlock with a circular arrow around it.

Tip: You can also use the switch on the side of the iPad (above the volume control) to toggle lock rotation, though you may have to turn this feature on in the ‘Settings’ app: General > Lock Rotation.