Mobile Phones Guidance in Schools

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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How do we balance mobile phone use with focused and safe learning classrooms in schools?

The Department for Education have published further guidance for schools on prohibiting the use of mobile phones throughout the school day …

A new framework is laid out for schools to develop, communicate, and enforce policies on the use of mobile phones.

Distraction and bully-free learning

Mobile PhonesPublished by the Department for Education, Mobile Phones in Schools: Guidance for Prohibiting the Use of Mobile Phones Throughout the School Day.

The guidance – not policy – highlights the crucial role of distraction-free learning in classrooms, helping ALL students to concentrate and our teachers to teach without disruption.

The paper outlines the significant impact of mobile phones on students’ focus and lesson disruption – a staggering 97% of students (aged 12) own a mobile phone!

Note, whilst media outlets may report ‘giving headteachers stronger powers’ or ‘banning phones in schools’ as a headline, this guidance is not statutory and is largely the same as before.

There is a nod to parents to the implications on student well-being, sanctions and school policies in a range of settings.

Schools are encouraged to establish clear, consistent, and contextually appropriate policies that reflect their unique environments. The guidance suggests various approaches to creating a mobile phone-free zone, ranging from outright bans to secure storage solutions during school hours.

The guidance also addresses the legal aspects of enforcing mobile phone policies and acknowledges the need for flexibility and reasonable adjustments in certain cases, such as for students with medical conditions.

Guidance doesn’t fix the bigger problems

The document is a much-needed and comprehensive blueprint, but for me, it doesn’t go far enough.

Decades after the introduction of the first mobile phone, people in positions of influence have preferred to keep up with the current status quo despite the risks mobile technology poses to young people under the age of 18.

As I write, the Online Harms Bill is not yet law.

Mobile phones in the hands of our young people have their advantages in terms of accessibility and affordability, facilitating private communication, global connections, and new economic opportunities. However, this accessibility also gives rise to illicit activities, exploitation of vulnerable groups, and deepening social inequalities, all played out against a backdrop of widespread misinformation and digital disparity.

While acknowledging parents’ desire for their children’s safety, which mobile phones can provide, it’s crucial we move beyond merely restricting access. Instead, there’s a pressing need to intensify the scrutiny of apps, tools, and filters designed to shield our young people from harm.

This approach should take precedence over the current system which allows algorithms and social media ‘likes’ to influence young people during a time when their critical thinking skills are still maturing …

Read the full guidance.

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