The government wants to make classrooms calmer and more productive for students after proposing a complete ban on smartphones as a six-week consultation on poor behaviour at schools gets underway.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson believes that mobile devices can cause a “damaging effect” on the wellbeing and mental health of children when screen time is excessive.
He is now calling for evidence from teachers and parents about the impact of smartphone usage to use in a review into discipline and behaviour at school.
“Every school should be a safe place that allows young people to thrive and teachers to excel,” Williamson said.
He has also previously stated that mobile phones can increase instances of cyberbullying and harassment in school environments.
However, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, believes that Williamson is “obsessed” with a ban on smartphones.
Barton said that schools are not a “digital free-for-all” and pointed to the robust policies that many classrooms already have in place to curb usage.
He urged Williamson to instead focus on a recovery plan that would help students to get back on track following the pandemic.
Meanwhile, NAHT senior policy advisor Sarah Hannafin believes that an outright ban on mobiles could cause even more problems.
In addition to new smartphone policies, the government has also proposed the introduction of “removal rooms” and “managed moves” as a way to combat ill-discipline and potential expulsions.