Education secretary Gillian Keegan understood to be considering complete mobile phone ban for schools
Mobile phones could be banned in schools completely under new guidance the government is understood to be considering.
Headteachers may soon be told to eliminate phones from the school day entirely – including at all breaks and lunchtimes – in new advice expected to be set out at the Conservative Party Conference.
While the use of mobile phones in school is already tightly controlled by most headteachers – education secretary Gillian Keegan is understood to be considering releasing fresh guidance that backs a ban for the whole school day.
This would see children barred from using their devices both in class and around the school outside of lesson time. However the new guidelines are expected to permit children carrying phones with them – for use on their journey to and from school for safety reasons.
It was back in 2019 that then schools minister Nick Gibb first suggested that the government may lean towards advising on a complete ban on phones in schools.
In 2021 education secretary Gavin Williamson echoed his thoughts and said he too felt ‘it was time to put the screens away’.
Writing in a national newspaper in the midst of the pandemic, Mr Williamson said phones not only move children away from “exercise and good old-fashioned play” but were also one of the causes of cyber bullying and the inappropriate use of social media.
However no further progress was made after it was decided following further investigation in February 2022 that most schools already had ‘adequate’ measures in place to manage phone use and no blanket ban across England was felt necessary by ministers.
Yet a report from the UN, released this summer, called for a global ban on all mobile phone use in school – citing research that suggested the move would tackle classroom disruption, improve learning and protect youngsters from bullying.
Gillian Keegan, who was appointed education secretary in October last year, is expected to unveil her latest ideas during Monday’s party conference.
The plans, which would only be Department for Education guidance - rather than law - would apply to England only as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have devolved powers.