By John Ensor •
Published: 02 Oct 2023 • 10:25
Mobile phone being used in a classroom.
Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock.com
MOBILE phones are seen by many as one of life’s essentials, but should they be allowed to be used by children at school?
On Monday, October 2, at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan is due to unveil new directives on mobile phone usage in schools, writes the BBC.
The Department for Education in England is pushing for a complete ban on pupils using mobile phones during school hours. This includes both break times and lessons. While many educational institutions already have some form of limitation on phone use, this new directive aims to standardise the approach.
Mobile phones are a distraction and are often used for bullying, Gillian Keegan will state during her address. Although students can carry their phones for commuting purposes, they won’t be permitted to use them during academic hours.
The idea of a national restriction on mobile phone school usage isn’t new. Schools minister Nick Gibb had proposed a similar idea in 2019. Additionally, former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson voiced his support for such a ban in 2021, stating, ‘mobile phones should not be used or seen during the school day’. However, in February 2022, the education department felt that national rules weren’t essential since most schools in England were proactive in this regard.
When asked about pupils using phones, one parent from Lincolnshire said: ‘I think that completely depends on the setting, I think children of primary school age definitely not.’
The busy mum of three whose 15-year-old son who attends University Technical College (UTC) added: ‘Pupils at UTC are encouraged to download apps that are helpful to them in the classroom and are permitted to use their phone.’
This is ‘on the understanding that if they are found to be using it for any other purpose the phone will be confiscated until the teacher decides otherwise (this has been for a whole weekend in some cases) so because of that all the pupils really respect their boundaries and don’t break the rules.’
She did however relate a previous experience where a total ban on phones backfired, at a ‘previous school where phones were banned in classrooms. . . the kids would abuse that rule and use them anyway, but only to mess around on and be doing things they shouldn’t.’
In a teaching environment the debate on mobile phones isn’t just restricted to children, Heather, a former teacher related: ‘When I was teaching adults they [phones] were a major distraction. I insisted they were switched off and kept in their bags.’
Currently, head teachers possess the authority to set phone restrictions within their schools. In 2018, it was estimated that 95 per cent of schools had some form of limitation. However, the rules vary. In some institutions, students must surrender their devices at the beginning of the day, while in others, they can store them in their bags or even use them during breaks.
Outside of England, there aren’t any universal bans in Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland due to their devolved powers concerning education. On a global scale, countries such as France and China have already enforced national bans on mobile phones in schools. The Netherlands is also planning to implement a similar ban by 2024.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
One reason the world is such a mess is because children are brought up with little or no discipline. Make them put their damned phones away, they don’t need them at school!!
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