Why are mobile phones being banned in schools?

A UN report suggests a global ban on smartphones in schools (RDNE Stock project / Pexels)
A UN report suggests a global ban on smartphones in schools (RDNE Stock project / Pexels)

The government has announced that mobile phone use should be banned across schools in England, in order to improve classroom behaviour.

On Tuesday, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said that the government will support head teachers in banning the use of mobiles.

Keegan revealed that new guidance from the Department for Education would advise headteachers to ban mobiles throughout the school day, including at break times, to tackle disruptive behaviour and online bullying while boosting attention during lessons.

However, a teaching union leader has now warned that introducing a blanket ban on pupils using mobile phones in schools across England is “unenforceable”.

The general secretary of the Nasuwt teaching union explained: “If the Government introduces blanket bans that are unenforceable, this will make the behaviour crisis worse, not better.”

Here is a comprehensive look at the current rules around mobile phones in schools, the arguments for why they should be banned, and more.

Are mobile phones permitted in UK schools?

As it stands, headteachers already have the power to ban phones at their schools. However, as it is up to the subjective decision of heads, each school has a different set of rules.

While some may ask pupils to hand in their phones at the start of the day, others might let them keep them in their bags during lessons and use them during breaks.

Who has argued for a ban and why?

The Government has called for a blanket ban on mobile phones across all schools in England.

The new guidelines are expected to allow students to bring their phones to school. However, they will be banned from using them during the school day, meaning they can only use them while travelling to and from school.

Earlier this year, a report from the United Nations (UN) provided the same advice, recommending that smartphones be banned from all schools to battle classroom disruption.

Which other countries have banned mobile phone use in schools?

In countries like France, Finland, and China, there is a national ban on phones in schools. And the Netherlands is planning to ban mobile phones from schools starting next year.

However, there are no current plans for the ban to be replicated in schools in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland thus far.