Head Teachers Oppose Calls for Mobile Phone Ban

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Nick Gibb, the minister for school standards in England, has called for a ban on mobile phones in classrooms – and for pupils to be taught about the dangers of excessive screen time.

Gibb stated, ‘Schools obviously are free to set their own behaviour policies but my own view is that schools should ban mobile telephones and smartphones inside school, and particularly inside classrooms.

 

‘I believe very strongly that children should be limiting their own use at home. Every hour spent online and on a smartphone is an hour less talking to family, and it’s an hour less exercise and it’s an hour less sleep.

 

‘And of course it is a lack of sleep that research is showing can have a damaging effect on a child’s mental health.’

 

Education secretary Damian Hinds added that it was not up to the government to enforce a ban but a decision for headteachers.

 

Hinds said, ‘We have a system where, rightly, we want headteachers to be in charge of schools. They tend to know the schools best and they know the kids best.’

 

He added that he wouldn’t support a national ban but said: ‘What I want to do is stand foursquare behind the headteacher who bans them. ‘If you think about some of the complexities – if you just have a ban, what do you do about kids who are in school but after hours? Or what do you do on a school trip? Or what do you do with the child who has particular medical needs, where they might have to make an emergency call? How do you deal with that?

 

‘If you’ve got the school making the rules – and by the way schools have always made the rules, including about banning things and confiscating things – they can allow for those difficult cases and make those adjustments.

 

Nick Gibb said he was concerned about the dangers of device dependency ‘It’s worth saying that of course most schools do have restrictions on mobile phones, and in many cases a total ban, and I absolutely support the schools that decide to do that.’

 

In response, the National Association of Head Teachers warned banning phones in schools outright could make tackling the associated problems harder. ‘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,’ said the association’s senior policy adviser, Sarah Hannafin.

 

‘Ultimately, schools work to prepare young people for the outside world, giving them the awareness and strategies to responsibly monitor their own screen use and the ability to identify and deal with any negative impacts or problematic content they encounter.’

 

February 2019

Digital Learning
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