Should mobile phones be banned for pupils in school? Suffolk head rejects outright ban

Ipswich School Headmaster Nicholas Weaver Picture: NICHOLAS WEAVER

Ipswich School Headmaster Nicholas Weaver Picture: NICHOLAS WEAVER - Credit: Archant

An Ipswich headmaster has spoken about the importance of restricting pupils’ mobile phone usage during school hours in light of comments made by a Suffolk MP.

West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS

West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS - Credit: Archant

Nicholas Weaver wrote a blog about the policy at Ipswich School in response to comments made by West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock, who called for more schools to ban mobiles. Mr Hancock, who is the culture secretary, said he backed headteachers who banned the devices during school, and said more should “follow their lead”.

Mr Weaver said that while he agreed with the MP when it came to children aged under 11, but was not sure about banning phones for older age groups.

“At Ipswich School, we spent a considerable time in crafting our own mobile phone policy, consulting with pupils, staff and parents,” he said.

“We considered, and rejected, outright prohibition.

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“We feel that we have a responsibility for educating our pupils so that they have an understanding of how and when to use mobile technology appropriately in the modern world.

“After all, when they leave school each day, and when their school days are over, how will prohibition have prepared them for life with a mobile on their person 24/7?

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Pupils below year nine are not allowed to have phones in school, other than at the beginning and end of day. Older pupils are allowed to have a phone but must not use them for more than a minute at a time.

“This allows for positive use of the device - for example taking a picture of a notice, so that the pupil has all of the details to hand later - but prohibits prolonged gaming or video watching, for which we feel there is ample time outside school,” Mr Weaver said.

Concerns about children’s use of mobile phones has increased in recent years as the devices became more prevalent.

Critics have warned about the effect of prolonged use on children’s mental health as well as the dangers of grooming by predators on social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

Last year, Framlingham College held a trial where by years nine and 10 were not allowed phones in school, during the school day, in prep or after bedtime. Headmaster Paul Taylor the trial bought a “flood” of supportive emails from parents.

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