Education Secretary considering banning mobile phones in schools

29 June 2021, 00:27 | Updated: 29 June 2021, 11:06

Gavin Williamson said he wants to make the school day mobile-free
Gavin Williamson said he wants to make the school day mobile-free. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Banning mobile phones in schools is one of a number of measures being considered by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to promote "calm classrooms".

Mr Williamson said he wants to make the school day mobile-free, describing the devices as "not just distracting" but also potentially "damaging" when misused.

Critics say the issue of mobile phones is an "operational decision for schools, not something that can be micromanaged from Westminster".

The idea is being considered as part of a six-week consultation, launched on Tuesday, seeking the views of teachers, parents and other staff on how to manage good behaviour.

READ MORE: Gavin Williamson tells LBC 'no corners have been cut' on education recovery plan

READ MORE: 'Children are being blamed': Calls for change to Covid isolation rules in schools

The call for evidence comes ahead of planned updates to government guidance later this year on behaviour, discipline, suspensions and permanent exclusions.

The Department for Education (DfE) has already announced details of its £10 million "behaviour hub" programme.

Headteachers and behaviour specialists from 22 "lead schools" and two academy chains with strong reputations for behaviour are mentoring and supporting schools struggling with poor discipline as part of the scheme.

The chosen schools are advising on a variety of issues - ranging from setting clear expectations to eliminate low-level disruption in classrooms, to more systematic approaches to maintaining order across the school, including forbidding the use of mobile phones and maintaining quiet corridors.

As part of the consultation, respondents will be asked how schools' behaviour policies and approaches have changed amid the pandemic and what successful practices they intend to keep up.

Education Sec asked if tutoring is being 'done on the cheap'

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."

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) accused Mr Williamson of "playing to backbenchers" with his plans.

General secretary 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."

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."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Sir Ian McKellen was taken to hospital after he fell from the stage during a West End performance

Sir Ian McKellen 'in good spirits' and expected to make 'speedy and full recovery' after falling off stage

Sir Ian McKellen has been taken to hospital after he fell from the stage during a West End performance

Sir Ian McKellen rushed to hospital after falling off stage during West End performance

Dario G star Paul Spencer

Dario G star Paul Spencer dies aged 53 following cancer diagnosis

Reform chairman Richard Tice was speaking on Tonight with Andrew Marr.

'Take them back to France': Reform will have 'standoff' with French over illegal migrants if needed, says Richard Tice

The teen was helping cut the tree down as a summer job.

Pictured: Boy, 16, crushed by 30ft tree just a day after finishing final GCSE exam - as three arrested

Police hunt 21-year-old man following death of boy, 12 in shocking hit-and-run

Manhunt for Coventry hit-and-run suspect continues following death of boy, 12, as police urge public to 'do the right thing'

Parts of the UK face severe rainfall next week, dramatic weather maps suggest

Thunderstorms set to drench Britain with 10 days worth of rain failing in just three hours

Fury erupted after the cow was rammed by a police car

Let us not be hypocrites when we look at the shocking case of the runaway cow

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

Prince William seen at a procession for the annual Garter Day service

William beams during Order of the Garter procession as royals join King and Queen at Windsor Castle

The parkour runner damaged the UNESCO World Heritage Site building in Italy in a parkour stunt

Shocking footage captures parkour runner damaging UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy

Defendant Josef Fritzl, center, is escorted to the fourth day of his trial in the provincial courthouse in St. Poelten, Austria, Thursday, March 19, 2009.

Incest monster Josef Fritzl placed under legal guardianship amid worsening dementia

Rod Stewart (pictured on stage in Copenhagen on Sunday June 9) was booed by German fans for supporting Ukraine

Rod Stewart defends show of support for Ukraine after booing at Germany concert

Police officer found guilty of gross misconduct after joyrider killed child actor and aunt in 60mph pursuit

Police officer found guilty of gross misconduct after joyrider killed child actor and aunt in 60mph pursuit

Mugshot of McNaughton, left, and smiling photo or Mr Coshan, right

Catfisher jailed for life after murdering retired teacher he 'lured' to flat using fake profile on gay dating site

Keir Starmer said he was "really shocked" at the footage

'Shocked' Keir Starmer accuses police of 'animal cruelty' after runaway cow rammed five times with squad car