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Teachers say ban on mobile phones in classrooms will be ‘unenforceable’ with majority of schools already outlawing devices – as parents fear pupils could be left unable to access online timetables and may struggle to get to lessons

A ban on mobile phones in classrooms would be 'unenforceable', a teaching union leader warned today. Headteachers will be told to ban students fr

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A ban on mobile phones in classrooms would be ‘unenforceable’, a teaching union leader warned today. 

Headteachers will be told to ban students from using devices during the school day under Government guidance, the Daily Mail revealed

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan will set out the plans at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Monday afternoon.

A source said that Ms Keegan believes mobile phones ‘pose a serious challenge in terms of distraction, disruptive behaviour and bullying’.

But addressing the reports, Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: ‘If the Government introduces blanket bans that are unenforceable, this will make the behaviour crisis worse, not better.’   

Mobiles are to be banned from classrooms, the Education Secretary will announce on Monday (Stock image)

Mobiles are to be banned from classrooms, the Education Secretary will announce on Monday (Stock image)

Mobiles are to be banned from classrooms, the Education Secretary will announce on Monday (Stock image)

Today, some warned a blanket ban could cause problems for children, with some left unable to access online timetables

Today, some warned a blanket ban could cause problems for children, with some left unable to access online timetables

Today, some warned a blanket ban could cause problems for children, with some left unable to access online timetables

In England, it is currently up to individual school leaders to decide their own policies on mobile phones and whether they should be banned.

The government estimated in 2018 that 95 per cent of schools have imposed restrictions.

But today, some warned a blanket ban could cause problems for children, with some left unable to access online timetables.

One parent, Josephine, wrote on social media: ‘I don’t think phone use in school is good. 

‘However my kids having phones they take with them gives them independence (e.g. they can ask about seeing a friend, they can look up bus timetables and pay for tickets where paper and cash are not an option) and I think that’s a big plus.’ 

Meanwhile, a Montessori who gave the name Eva tweeted: ‘Primary school, yes absolutely. Secondary school is harder. They need to learn how to use them responsibly.

‘Many schools use apps for timetables, homework etc. Parents just need to use parental control settings, restrict usage time, check the phone regularly and most of all talk.’

Gillian Keegan will order schools to outlaw smartphones during lessons, and also in breaks, in a bid to end disruption and make it easier for pupils to focus

Gillian Keegan will order schools to outlaw smartphones during lessons, and also in breaks, in a bid to end disruption and make it easier for pupils to focus

Gillian Keegan will order schools to outlaw smartphones during lessons, and also in breaks, in a bid to end disruption and make it easier for pupils to focus

Many schools already ban the use of mobiles, with pupils required to hand in their phones each morning – or face the punishment of a detention if they are caught using them.

But many others still permit their use, particularly during breaks, despite growing evidence of the damage they cause.

It is understood that the Department for Education (DfE) plans to issue new guidance for schools in England which would urge them to ban pupils from using phones in classrooms, as well as during breaks. 

Monday’s announcement of a ban on the use of mobiles in the classroom follows years of debate about their impact. How the ban is enforced will be down to individual state schools.

Many parents are content for their children to carry a phone so that they can make emergency contact while travelling to and from school.

But the presence of smartphones in the classroom – and constant notifications from apps – has been blamed for causing disruption, as well as fuelling cyber-bullying and thefts. In June, Finland became the latest country to ban phones in class in a bid to reverse a decline in exam results.

Many parents are content for their children to carry a phone so that they can make emergency contact while travelling to and from school (Stock image)

Many parents are content for their children to carry a phone so that they can make emergency contact while travelling to and from school (Stock image)

Many parents are content for their children to carry a phone so that they can make emergency contact while travelling to and from school (Stock image)

The following month, a major United Nations report recommended smartphones should be banned to improve learning and tackle classroom disruption and cyberbullying.

Unesco, the UN’s education, science and culture agency, pointed to evidence that excessive mobile phone use was linked to reduced educational performance. It said countries should ensure they have clear objectives and principles to ensure digital technology in education avoids harm – both to pupils and wider democracy.

Unesco’s director general, Audrey Azoulay, said that ‘attention must be paid’ to the way the ‘digital revolution’ is used in education.

She said at the time: ‘Its use must be for enhanced learning experiences and for the wellbeing of students and teachers, not to their detriment.’ Studies have found links between phones and poor mental health among children – including anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

There are also growing concerns that pupils are using mobiles to bully each other on social media and for sexual harassment. Ministers have previously tried to ban mobile phones in state schools.

Two years ago, then-education secretary Sir Gavin Williamson vowed to make the school day ‘mobile-free’, and won support from Dame Rachel de Souza, the Children’s Commissioner for England. But the proposed ban was ditched by his successor, Nadhim Zahawi, early last year.

The Department for Education said instead that revised guidance would make clear that ‘heads are best placed’ to make decisions on mobiles.

But the presence of smartphones in the classroom ¿ and constant notifications from apps ¿ has been blamed for causing disruption, as well as fuelling cyber-bullying and thefts (Stock image)

But the presence of smartphones in the classroom ¿ and constant notifications from apps ¿ has been blamed for causing disruption, as well as fuelling cyber-bullying and thefts (Stock image)

But the presence of smartphones in the classroom – and constant notifications from apps – has been blamed for causing disruption, as well as fuelling cyber-bullying and thefts (Stock image)

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