Government to consider full mobile phone ban in schools as part of behaviour consultation

The Education Secretary has been criticised over his focus on this over the post-pandemic recovery plan for schools and students

Government to consider full mobile phone ban in schools as part of behaviour consultation (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Government to consider full mobile phone ban in schools as part of behaviour consultation (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

The government will consider a complete ban on mobile phones in schools as part of a consultation on behaviour being launched today.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has criticised the use of mobile phones in schools previously, but experts in the sector believe the fixation is misplaced.

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At a glance: 5 key points

– A consultation on behaviour in schools will consider a total ban on mobile phones

– Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said he wants to make the school day mobile-free

– The consultation, which launches today, will give an opportunity for teachers, parents and other education staff to have their say on how to improve behaviour in schools

– The plans have been criticised as overly-simplistic and politically motivated by expert in the sector

– This comes alongside the department’s £10m behaviour hub programme, which pairs schools with behavioural issues up with well-performing schools in a mentoring scheme

What’s been said?

Mr Williamson said: “No parent wants to send their child to a school where poor behaviour is rife. Every school should be a safe place that allows young people to thrive and teachers to excel.

“Mobile phones are not just distracting, but when misused or overused, they can have a damaging effect on a pupil’s mental health and wellbeing. I want to put an end to this, making the school day mobile-free.

“In order for us to help pupils overcome the challenges from the pandemic and level up opportunity for all young people, we need to ensure they can benefit from calm classrooms which support them to thrive.”

Sarah Hannafin, senior policy advisor for school leaders’ union NAHT, added: “Mobile phone bans work for some schools but there isn’t one policy that will work for all schools.

“Outright banning mobile phones can cause more problems than it solves, driving phone use ‘underground’ and making problems less visible and obvious for schools to tackle.”

General secretary of The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Geoff Barton said: “The Education Secretary appears to be obsessed with the subject of mobile phones in schools. In reality, every school will already have a robust policy on the use of mobile phones; it isn’t some sort of digital free-for-all.

“Approaches will vary between settings and contexts, but this is an operational decision for schools, not something that can be micromanaged from Westminster.

“Frankly, school and college leaders would prefer the Education Secretary to be delivering an ambitious post-pandemic recovery plan and setting out how he intends to minimise educational disruption next term, rather than playing to backbenchers on the subject of behaviour.”