Controversy Erupts as UK Calls For Nationwide Ban on Mobile Phones in Schools

At the beginning of October, Gillian Keegan, the Secretary of State for Education of the United Kingdom, announced a ban on mobile phone use in schools. 

“Today, one of the biggest issues facing children and teachers is grappling with the impact of smartphones in our schools.” She said, adding that the government will issue new guidance for schools.  

A Complete Mobile Phone Ban

Mobile phone use during school has a negative impact on attention and learning in classrooms, which is why the Education Secretary’s office announced a complete mobile phone ban in schools.

However, the decision started a debate on whether a complete mobile ban is the right solution. 

According to Unesco’s examination of 200 education systems worldwide, one in four nations has either passed laws or issued guidelines prohibiting smartphones in classrooms.

Among them were France, which unveiled its strategy in 2018, and the Netherlands, which plans to impose limitations starting in 2024.

However, Patrick Roach, the general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, disagrees with the ban. He believes this “solution” isn’t going to help teachers or students but will only cause more problems. 

Cons of a Blanket Ban

“Blanket bans that are unenforceable will make the behavior crisis worse, not better,” Patrick explained.

Banning cell phones in schools will not stop students from discreetly bringing them into school. Without the ban, teachers are aware that their students have a phone on them. They can demand that all students switch them off before class or keep them on the side. 

With the ban in place, students will still manage to sneak their cell phones into the school—only now teachers won’t know about it. 

Parental Opposition

Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of NAHT, the school leaders’ union, pointed out, “There could be parental opposition too, as there are practical reasons why pupils may need a mobile phone, such as while traveling to and from school.”

One of the biggest pros of a child having a smartphone is being able to communicate with them and know their whereabouts. A mobile ban may result in parents being unable to reach them in case of an emergency.

Did they miss the bus? Are they not feeling well?

Simple text messages can help parents know that their child is okay.

Even apps like ‘Find My Device’ offer parents a sense of security by allowing them to check their child’s location.

The Debate on Phone Ban 

The Association of School and College Leaders (ACSL) argued that taking away devices may lead students and tweens to “experience anxiety.” This, they believed, could, in turn, “trigger poor behavior” in school.  

However, a UN report contradicts this finding and recommends that a phone ban in schools can help tackle classroom disruption while improving learning.  

A similar mobile ban was previously proposed in 2021; however, it was not approved. For now, many schools in Britain already have set rules that require students to place their phones in their lockers during school hours. 

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This article was produced by TPR Teaching. Source.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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