Home Education & Learning UK Schools to Introduce Mobile Phone Bans

UK Schools to Introduce Mobile Phone Bans

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Schools across the UK are set to introduce bans on mobile phones, with teachers being empowered to search pupils for devices. This initiative, spearheaded by Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, aims to shift the norms of mobile phone usage in educational settings, addressing concerns over social media’s impact on young minds and classroom dynamics.

The latest guidance, as unveiled by Keegan, presents four primary approaches to implementing the ban. These range from insisting that devices be left at home to teachers collecting them every morning or maintaining them out of sight in bags.

Headteachers are also encouraged to include mobile devices as items searchable under behaviour policies. The non-statutory nature of the guidance means that while it sets a clear direction, individual schools retain the autonomy to shape their specific policies.

Keegan asserts the necessity of this move: “What we’re trying to do is change the norm in our schools, that phones are not acceptable in our schools.” This statement reflects a growing consensus among educators and policymakers about the role of mobile phones in diluting the educational experience.

Schools have been offered a spectrum of options to enforce the ban. The most stringent being a complete prohibition on school premises, and the least, allowing pupils to keep phones as long as they are not used, seen, or heard. The policy also empowers headteachers to conduct searches if they suspect a pupil possesses a mobile phone, leveraging existing legal powers.

The implications of this policy are substantial, as nearly all children (97%), according to Ofcom – own mobile phones by the age of 12. The move aligns with global trends, mirroring actions taken in countries like France, Italy, and Portugal, where mobile phone restrictions in schools are already in place.

The response to this policy has been mixed. While some, like Tom Bennett, an advisor to the Department for Education on behaviour, commend the policy for addressing the detrimental impact of mobile phones on children’s social and educational development, others remain sceptical.

Critics, including teaching unions and the Association of School and College Leaders, argue that most schools already have policies regarding mobile phones and that the government’s focus should instead be on regulating online platforms that expose children to harmful content. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, pointed out, “It is a non-policy for a non-problem.”

The decision also aligns with parental concerns about their children’s digital consumption. Research by the education charity Parentkind found that 44% of parents are worried about the time their children spend on electronic devices. This concern is amplified by the tragic cases of Brianna Ghey and Molly Russell, where the harmful influence of online content was brought into stark relief. These cases have fueled demands for more stringent regulation of social media platforms.

Keegan acknowledged these concerns, highlighting the government’s Online Safety Act, which aims to safeguard children from accessing inappropriate content. “We are working with regulators to force social media firms to prevent children seeing harmful content or face huge fines and even jail time,” she added.

As schools prepare to implement these guidelines, the debate continues over the best ways to protect and nurture the educational environment. While the guidance provides a framework, its non-statutory nature means the effectiveness and uniformity of its implementation across schools remain to be seen.

The move by the UK government marks a significant step in addressing the complex interplay of technology, education, and child development. As Keegan aptly explained: “Our children deserve a world-class education. So it’s right that we take action urgently to ensure they are learning in the best environment possible.”

This policy, at its core, seeks to reclaim the sanctity of the classroom, ensuring that the school years, undeniably precious, are spent in an environment conducive to learning and personal growth, free from the distractions and potential harms of the digital world.

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd