Mobile phones could be banned in schools in England under a new government policy.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says technology, while incredibly important, has also had obvious negative effects on the behaviour of children.
Writing in the Telegraph, he said the past year will have ‘inevitably affected pupils’ discipline’ and that the government’s £10 million behaviour hub’ programme, due to start this summer, is aimed at improving the classroom environment.
And he argues that mobile phones perpetuate cyber-bullying and distract from ‘exercise and good old-fashioned play’.
However, he noted that he still backs the use of tablets and laptops for learning.
Mr Williamson writes: “While technology has been invaluable in keeping children learning during lockdowns and we support its use, it’s now time to put the screens away, especially mobile phones.
“Maintaining good discipline is an absolute must in any classroom and is one of our key priorities.
“Out-of-control behaviour will also destroy the wholesome and happy environment that every school should have, leading to bullying, and turning playgrounds from a place of joy to a jungle.
“That’s why I am totally behind schools and colleges taking firm action to create a disciplined and calm environment, and putting in place a strong behaviour culture where students are taught how to behave well and are clear about what is expected of them.”
According to reports, the UK government has identified 22 ‘lead schools’ that will help guide and support other schools struggling with behaviour.
Last year, South Australia announced that it was to ban mobiles in all state primary schools.
Under the policy, it will be up to the discretion of the school as to where they allow students to store their phones during school hours, whether it be with a teacher, in a locker or in students’ bags.
Education Minister John Gardner said: “We understand families may want their child to have a phone while travelling to and from school so they can contact them outside school hours.
“However, we believe that during school hours it is sensible for primary students to store their personal devices safely (away) so they can focus on learning.
He added that students would be permitted to use phones before and after school, with mobiles only being confiscated while on school grounds.
“At secondary level, we understand there needs to be more flexibility for sites to develop their own policies that reflect the needs of the school community.
“We note that a rule that is appropriate for a 12-year-old student is not always relevant for an 18-year-old.”
High schools will be able to choose their own mobile phone policy ‘so long as it supports learning’, according to news.com.au.