In a move aimed at enhancing student behavior and curbing online bullying, the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, unveiled new guidance recently that supports the banning of mobile phone use in schools across England.
The Department for Education’s directive empowers head teachers to enforce the ban throughout the school day, including break times, with the goal of boosting attentiveness during lessons.
The comprehensive ban on mobile phones aligns with the government’s broader efforts to elevate educational standards by increasing student focus and minimising distractions.
Support for Ban
Keegan underscored the ban’s support for the hard work of teachers and education staff, highlighting the government’s substantial investment in education, with funding reaching nearly £60 billion by 2024-25 in real terms.
England joins a growing list of countries, including France, Italy, and Portugal, which have already implemented similar bans. The move comes on the heels of warnings from the United Nations regarding the risks of smartphones in schools and government data revealing that approximately 29% of secondary school students reported unauthorised mobile phone usage in most or all lessons.
Compliance Might Become Mandatory
Should schools fail to implement the new guidance, the government is considering future legislation to make compliance mandatory.
Tom Bennett, a school behaviour advisor, praised the decision, saying, “This is a fantastic move forward for ensuring that students are able to work, learn, and grow in a place free from the distracting influence of mobile phones.
“Schools that have already banned them report that students are safer, happier, and able to focus far more than they were before – and it’s popular with them too. Heads should now be reassured that their efforts to keep schools mobile-free will be backed by the DfE. This is a positive and progressive step forward.”
The guidance acknowledges limited exemptions, primarily for cases where students require their phones for medical reasons.
The mobile phone ban builds upon a £10 million investment in behaviour hubs designed to support up to 700 schools in improving behaviour. Additionally, a new behavioral taskforce, led by DfE’s behaviour tsar Tom Bennett, has been established to further reinforce the initiative.
The move to ban mobile phone usage in schools across England marks a significant step toward fostering a more focused and harmonious learning environment while addressing concerns surrounding disruptive behaviour and online bullying. The government’s commitment to the cause is evident through its dedication to supporting schools in implementing this new policy.