Call to ban mobile phones in school

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The NASUWT teachers' union has called for tighter controls on the use of mobile phones in schools after a teacher was cleared of the attempted murder of a pupil.

It follows the trial of Peter Harvey, described as a 'fundamentally decent' teacher, who was cleared of the attempted murder of a pupil at All Saints' Roman Catholic School, Mansfield, in July 2009.

The 14-year-old boy had been disrupting the class while a girl - described as the pupils' 'ringleader' - filmed Harvey's reaction on a camcorder so footage could be passed around the school or posted online.

Mr Harvey, who had returned to school  from several months' sick leave for stress and depression 'snapped' and chased the boy into the corridor before dragging him into a storeroom and attacking with a dumbbell.

The boy, who is now 15, suffered a fractured skull in the attack and impaired hearing on his right side.

During the trial, witnesses testified to his previous good character during a 25-year teaching career.

Now NASUWT's general secretary, Chris Keates, is campaigning for a tightening of the rules around the use of mobile phones in schools.

Ms Keates said: "What we had in that classroom was an explosive situation of a combination of a teacher who was in a fragile state, of pupils who were set to exploit that fragile state and mobile technology that acted as a catalyst to make the whole situation escalate extremely quickly."

Ms Keates said the union had seen case after case of pupils 'acting up' for the cameras.

"We believe the time has come now to ask the question whether the [existing] guidance is sufficient, given the circumstances we have seen here."

"Any teacher who has been following the events will recognise that if you come together with such an explosive combination of events that circumstances like this can actually occur."

Current guidance regarding mobile phones is covered under the umbrella term of cyberbullying. Examples of its mis-use include sending nasty calls or text messages, including threats, intimidation, harassment. Taking and sharing humiliating images. Videoing other people being harassed and sending these to other phones or internet sites.

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