More headteachers should ban mobile phones in school, says minister

'I admire headteachers who do not allow mobile phones. More schools should follow their lead'

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Wednesday 20 June 2018 13:41
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Matt Hancock, the culture secretary, has called on more headteachers to ban phones
Matt Hancock, the culture secretary, has called on more headteachers to ban phones

Students should not be allowed their mobile phones during school hours, the culture secretary has said.

Matt Hancock suggested more headteachers should confiscate mobile phones from children at the start of the day, as he warned mobiles can have a “real impact” on students’ achievements.

The minister is concerned social media use can expose children to “risks” – including cyberbullying.

Writing in theDaily Telegraph, Mr Hancock questioned why young children needed phones at school in the first place.

He said: “There are a number of schools across the country that simply don’t allow them.

“I believe that very young children don’t need to have access to social media. They are children after all. They need to be able to develop their social skills in the real world first.”

Schools already have the freedom to ban or curb the use of mobile phones during the school day – and Mr Hancock said there was evidence to suggest banning phones in schools worked.

“While it is up to individual schools to decide rather than government, I admire headteachers who do not allow mobiles to be used during the school day. I encourage more schools to follow their lead,” he said.

His comments come as a group of Tory MPs have urged for a ban on mobiles during the school day, saying there is evidence it can have “a beneficial effect on pupils’ ability to learn”.

In a letter to the Telegraph, the seven politicians cited a 2015 study by the London School of Economics, writing: “Where schools banned smartphones from the premises, or required them to be handed in at the start of the day, pupils’ chances of getting five good GCSEs increased by an average of two per cent.

“The improvement was even more marked for lower-achieving pupils. Results among pupils in the bottom quarter of achievement improved twice as much as the average.”

The group, which included Harborough MP Neil O’Brien and Chichester MP Gillian Keegan, has urged the Department for Education to give clear guidance to schools about the evidence on attainment.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Headteachers already, of course, have the power to ban mobile phones in schools and we support their right to do so.

“We know that 95 per cent of schools already impose some kind of restriction on mobile phones use during the school day, with a substantial number banning them from the school premises altogether.”

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