Schools phone ban: New government guidance includes confiscation - is it a step too far?

”I don't think anybody should be removing someone else's personal property”
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The government has published new guidance for schools to help minimise disruption and distraction in classrooms. Education secretary Gillian Keegan said she was giving 'hard-working teachers the tools to take action to help improve behaviour'.

Statistics from Ofcom show that by the age of 12, 97% of pupils have a mobile phone. Last year, Unesco called for smartphones to be banned from schools as evidence showed it was linked to reduced educational performance and that excessive screen time had a negative impact on children's wellbeing

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The guidance issued this week backs headteachers in prohibiting the use of smartphones throughout the school day, including at break times. There are a range of sanctions and guidance available, including: banning phones from the school premises; handing in phones on arrival at school; keeping phones securely locked away at school; a 'never used, seen or heard' policy, which allows pupils to have phones as long as they are not used.

The most controversial guideline for a breach of schools rules is the possible confiscation of mobile phones and smart devices. The government says it will be up to the head of each school to determine the 'proportionate' length of time to confiscate phones. Schools already have this option, but it has now been laid out in government guidance.

Many schools around the country already forbid mobile phone use, this advice has been issued to ensure there is a consistent approach across all schools. However, it is not statutory, meaning schools can choose not to implement it.

We've been on the streets of Liverpool to hear your views on the new mobile phone guidance and the prospect of pupils having their smart devices confiscated.

Alysha tells us what she thinks of the crackdownAlysha tells us what she thinks of the crackdown
Alysha tells us what she thinks of the crackdown
  • Alysha said: "I don't think anybody should be removing someone else's personal property. If it does come to a point where it'll affect their learning then maybe something can be said but to a parent."
  • Richie said: "During class time, take the mobile phones off the kids because, without a doubt, they are a distraction."
  • Watch the video above for more reaction from the Liverpool public and to watch out full feature on mobile phones in schools.
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The government guidance respond to concerns from parents about mobile phones, with the latest data from ParentKind's National Parent Survey, revealing that 44% of parents are concerned about the amount of time their children spend on electronic devices, rising to 50% of parents of secondary school children.