This is a move supported by the Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza
Mobile phones will be banned from schools in England as soon as January under plans being considered by the Government. Dame Rachel de Souza, weighed in behind ministers to support a ban. Recently, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson launched a consultation on behaviour in schools which will look at “creating mobile phone-free” days. Pending the outcome of the consultation, ministers are intent on introducing the ban in 2022.
With the consultation lasting six weeks they are aware that schools will need a lead-in time to update their policies. Dame Rachel said she supported Mr Williamson’s plan to formally exclude smartphones from schools:
“The new move is helpful,” she said. “I think it’s generally a positive thing, it’s something lots of us have been doing for a while and I think there is a general groundswell of support for it.
“If you look at France, they’ve had a mobile ban in place for three years and I think it’s gone very well. It’s a bit of a non-issue and I’m pretty sure that’s how it will be for here.”
Until last year, Dame Rachel was chief executive of the Inspiration Trust, an academy chain in the East of England, where pupils have to keep phones switched off and away. She said that any ban in England would likely be along the same lines, with “Wi-Fi connectable smartphones to be left at home, or not used or taken out of the bag during school hours”. While parents would still be allowed to give their children smartphones, Dame Rachel suggested that they might want to get them an old-fashioned “brick phone” instead.
“It’s the distraction in the school provided by that internet connection and all the harms that can go with it that’s the problem,” she said. “We know that many underage children are accessing things they shouldn’t on the internet, and let’s just keep it out of school frankly.”
Banning phones in school would “take away the pressure a bit from parents, with younger and younger children having to be bought these handsets that are not cheap”, she said. It would also help “local policing not to have children walking to and from school with hundreds of pounds worth of handheld technology which could easily be a focus for pickpockets”, she claimed.
Some headteachers have objected to Mr Williamson’s position as an infringement of their autonomy, while others have said there is a role for phones in schools so teachers can teach young people how to use them responsibly. However, Dame Rachel said she did not accept either of these arguments.
“I’m very pro-autonomy… but something like this is just sensible, and when things work really well it’s good to scale them up to national [level], isn’t it? Teaching responsibility is really important, but I don’t think that needs to go with mobile phones in school.”
Dame Rachel, who has been asked by ministers to advise them on protecting children from online harms, said more needed to be done to prevent young people accessing social media and adult websites underage.
“I think age verification is a huge issue that needs tackling and can be tackled and not happening proper age verification mechanisms is causing all sorts of problems,” she said.
“We are talking to all the tech companies about how they can keep underage children off their social media sites, and what they can do to keep children safe, and I’m pushing on age verification.”
How do you feel about a woman you’ve never met and who doesn’t know your children “not accepting others arguments?” I kind of lost all respect right there to be honest! Whilst I accept they can be a distraction I’m not sure I accept it coming from people from the top. Phones are a safety device, are a social tool and can be used to research information and we all know we learn better if we learn for ourselves rather than dictated to.
I personally feel I want to decide about my child’s welfare and I’m happy that the school and Teachers I trust to educate my child are better placed to decide what is good or bad for the children they know. How do you feel about people above deciding what’s best and not accepting others aka you the parents point of view?