UK issues guidelines prohibiting mobile phones in schools


London, United Kingdom | By Michael Wandati | In a significant development for educational institutions across England, the British government has recently issued updated guidelines aimed at restricting the use of mobile phones throughout the school day, including break times.

This directive, outlined by the Department for Education, forms a crucial component of the government’s broader strategy to minimize disruptions and foster improved classroom behavior.

Statistics reveal that 97 percent of students own a mobile phone by the age of 12. Moreover, a third of secondary school pupils reported unauthorized mobile phone use in most lessons, and one in five pupils has encountered online bullying.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan emphasized, “Schools are places for children to learn and mobile phones are, at a minimum, an unwanted distraction in the classroom.”

The guidance provides examples of methods to establish a mobile phone-free environment, such as banning phones from school premises, requiring students to hand in phones upon arrival, and securely locking away phones during school hours.

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It also suggests that headteachers or authorized staff have the statutory power to search a pupil or their possessions if there are reasonable grounds to suspect the student is in possession of a prohibited item.

Although the guidance is non-statutory, lacking the force of law, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), criticized the government’s move as “a non-policy for a non-problem,” as many schools already prohibit mobile phone use during the school day.

“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,” Barton added.