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New guidance banning mobile phones in schools not needed, say school leaders

Commenting as the Education Secretary is expected to announce a new government policy aimed at banning mobile phone usage in schools at the Conservative Party Conference today, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“Most schools already have clear policies around mobile phone use and review them regularly. Schools have been dealing with the issue of mobile phones for many years so it is very hard to see what this latest government guidance will actually achieve.

“Schools have been crying out for guidance they actually do need on complex issues such as how best to support transgender pupils, instead they are offered this.

“We are also concerned that a blanket ban won’t work for all schools – we query whether this new policy has actually been sense checked at all with the profession.

“Unfortunately, a ban on mobile phones in school can cause more problems than it solves, leading to pupils becoming more secretive about their phone use, meaning problems are hidden from staff and therefore more difficult to spot and address.

“Individual schools know their pupils and communities so are best placed to develop their own policies when it comes to mobile phones in schools, according to what works for them and for pupils’ education and wellbeing.

“This announcement could present a big challenge for schools. We are not sure how it would work in practice and how it could be successfully implemented in a wide range of schools. Most young people won’t just stop bringing their phones to school, and there could be parental opposition too, as there are practical reasons why pupils may need a mobile phone such as while travelling to and from school.

“Schools help to prepare young people for the outside world, and this includes equipping them with awareness and strategies to responsibly monitor their own screen use and to focus on their work despite the distractions of the modern world.”

First published 02 October 2023