T: 01257 267677 E: hello@euromediaal.com


Are mobile phones being banned in UK schools?

The UK government has issued new guidance to schools amid a call for a total ban of mobile phones in schools.

Research has found that almost all secondary age pupils have a mobile phone. The Department for Education says 97% of 12-year-olds carry a smart phone and they are concerned that they can be a distraction in the classroom.

Are mobile phones being banned from schools?
A pupil using a phone

The DfE has today (February 19) said it is encouraging all schools to prohibit children from accessing phones when they are at school so they can focus on their education.

The negative side of phones in schools

The impact of mobile phones in schools

  • 29% of secondary school pupils admitted mobile phones were being used without permission in most of their lessons.
  • One in five children have experienced bullying online, much of which is done with phones.
  • Screen time can be addictive and lead to a dimishing interest in activities which have a positive impact on wellbeing such as socialising and exercise.
  • Carrying expensive smart phones makes children vulnerable to crime

Is there a mandatory ban?

The DfE has stopped short of legislating for a compulsory ban of phones in schools.

It is leaving the decision up to schools themselves but has said it strongly supports schools prohibiting the use of phones by pupils.

What is the guidance?

The DfE policy says the following:

  • All schools should develop and implement a policy that creates a mobile phone-free environment by prohibiting the use of mobile phones and other smart technology with similar functionality to mobile phones throughout the school day, including during lessons, the time between lessons, breaktimes and lunchtime
  • Schools will be able to choose an approach to prohibiting mobile phones which suits them. This could include banning phones from the school premises, handing in phones on arrival at school, or keeping phones locked away.
  • The policy should reflect the school’s individual context and needs and should make clear what rules pupils need to follow, what the consequences will be for breaching these rules, the role of staff in implementing the policy, and how reasonable adjustments and adaptations can be made for specific pupils who need them.
  • Simple and clear rules which are easy to follow help pupils meet the expected behaviours and make it easy for all staff to consistently enforce the school’s policy.
  • Schools have legal duties to support pupils with medical conditions and to take reasonable steps to avoid disadvantage to a disabled pupil caused by the school’s policies or practices on mobile phones. Schools should assess each case for adjustments or adaptations on its own merits

READ MORE: Is it time to scrap one word Ofsted ratings?

READ MORE: Managing school behaviour – the power of positive parental engagement

What are education leaders saying?

Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:  “As most schools already have policies in place to deal with the problems of mobile phone use, this guidance will make little difference and is a distraction from the many problems facing education. 

“What Gillian Keegan should be doing is facing up to the deep challenges in our schools. The education secretary must acknowledge and address the detrimental impact of real-terms funding cuts on children and young people’s education, the lack of mental health support both within and outside of school, the teacher recruitment and retention crisis and the rising levels of child poverty. 

“These are the issues school leaders are currently most concerned about and if resolved will make a difference when helping students make positive choices and develop good learning habits.”

Mark Balaam, White Ribbon Ambassador and founder of imabi, said: “In principle, this is a good thing. Mobile phones have transformed schools in recent years, opening a whole new front for teachers to deal with and monitor.

“We all know that’s essentially an impossible job, so banning them in schools would seem like a sensible move. However, the simple truth is that the genie is out of the bottle.

“Smartphones are integral to so many – and indeed their use has even been built into part of the curriculum in some circumstances – so cutting them out entirely will be almost impossible to implement.

“The emphasis should be on providing support to help students – including guidance and advice, as well as the ability to discreetly report and flag incidents of abuse and inappropriate behaviour.

“Handing in phones at the start of the day doesn’t stop them being used outside of school for bullying. So, instead, educators should be offering the support to counteract and reduce the impact – as it’s impossible to stop entirely.

“With so much of modern life built on smartphones, it’s counter-intuitive to remove them from the education mix completely. We should be integrating them and educating future generations on safe usage, not acting as if they don’t exist.”

Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) general secretary Geoff Barton, said: “Most schools already forbid the use of mobile phones during the school day, or allow their use only in limited and stipulated circumstances.

“We have lost count of the number of times that ministers have now announced a crackdown on mobile phones in schools. It is a non-policy for a non-problem.

“The government would be far better off putting its energies into bringing to heel the online platforms via which children are able to access disturbing and extreme content.”

Edit Template
Wernick Buildings
The Schools and Academies Show

Subscribe to the QA Education Newsletter

QA Education is GDPR compliant

Edit Template

QA Education is provided be Euromedia Associates Ltd
UK Registered Company Address: 10 Ashfield Rd, Chorley, PR7 1LJ

Tel: 01257 267677  Email: hello@euromediaal.com
Registered Company No: 02662317 VAT Registration No: GB582161642


Euromedia Associates Publishers of QA Education Magazine
Euromedia 33 Years in business logo 1990 - 2023
Guaranteed Royal Mail distribution
Royal mail
Website and all content Copyright © 2023 Euromedia Associates Ltd All Rights Reserved.