Matt Hancock, writing in the Telegraph, called for more schools to ban mobile phones and said he admired those headteachers who did not allow mobile phone usage during the school day.
This news correlates with other pivotal discussions currently about the impact that mobile phones and over-exposure to social media haveon the mental health of children.
Currently, there are no laws on mobile phone usage in schools, and individual schools are free to set their own rules. However, according to the Department for Education, 95% of schools in England control the use of phones in some way.
Latymer Upper school in west London and Michaela Community School in Wembley are amongst a handful of schools who have decided to ban phones.
Being distracted and disrupting concentration are some of the key factors in introducing the ban amongst schools. Moreover, it has been argued that phone bans curb bullying.
A primary issue with banning phones is that parents need to be able to contact their children, particularly when picking them up from school. In September, Reepham High School and College in Norfolk will also be conducting a ban, but will allow pupils to keep phones in school bags, avoiding this issue.
Headteacher Timothy Gibbs told 5 Live: “The reason we wanted to ban them originally is there were lots of little things going on in school during the day that we didn’t like – some in lessons, and some out of lessons.
“So now at school, we have less incidents of little things like a phone vibrating during a lesson which disturbs the flow of the lesson.”
A 2015 study by the London School of Economics found that ‘even if a student does not own a phone themselves their presence in the classroom may cause a distraction.’
They also showed found that ‘the results suggest that low-achieving students are more likely to be distracted by the presence of mobile phones, while high achievers can focus in the classroom regardless of the mobile phone policy.’
The UK is not the only country debating the issue. French lawmakers have voted to ban the use of mobile phones by pupils in primary and middle schools. Under the new measures, children up to the age of 15 will have to keep their mobile phones out of sight while on school premises.