In an unprecedented step to overhaul student’s integration of technology within the scholastic setting, the Head Teachers of England are soon to be recommended to enforce a complete mobile phone ban throughout the school day. This counsel is poised to emerge as part of the fresh guidelines from the Department for Education, seeking to extend the no-phone policy to break periods, apart from classes.
The impending plans underlining a stricter phone prohibition in education establishments will be made public at the Conservative Party conference by the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan. Even though encouraging phone restrictions is already a part of the official strategy, the verdict to tighten the rules has been underpinned by a confidence that expanding the existing guidance will further truncate phone utilisation during school hours.
Although no specific timeline has been officially disclosed to the Education Secretary’s proposition, her plans regarding the phone proscription will be announced at the political assembly shortly.
Upcoming regulations are being drafted to allow students to carry their mobile phones for commuting to and from schools, while creating a bar on using the devices during school hours. Keegan is set to declare a correlation between mobile phone usage in schools, distractions and bullying—a tri-fold problem the new guidelines intend to punctually address.
The notion of implementing national restrictions on phone usage has been a subject of prior discussions among education policy lawmakers. It was previously suggested in 2019 by Nick Gibb, the then Schools’ Minister. His sentiment aligned with Gavin Williamson, the former Education Secretary, who intimated his inclination towards enforcing a phone ban in 2021.
The centrally imposed universal rules were previously deemed unnecessary by the Department of Education in February 2022, citing most schools in England were already enforcing a crackdown on phone besiegement.
School Heads currently possess the authority to enact phone stipulations on their premises. An estimation in 2018 indicated approximately 95% of schools have imposed specific phone-related restrictions.
However, the rules vary across the nation. Some schools require students to relinquish their devices at the beginning of the day, while others allow carrying phones, provided they are stowed away in bags between lessons.
Presently, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have not enacted any blanket bans on phones in schools, given their devolved powers. However, countries like France and China have already instituted national bans on phones in schools, with the Netherlands planning to follow suit in 2024.