• Saturday, April 13, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Sunak announces ban on mobile phones in England schools

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Photo by Adrian Dennis – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Kimberly RodriguesBy: Kimberly Rodrigues

In a decisive move to enhance the learning atmosphere in classrooms, prime minister Rishi Sunak announced a nationwide ban on mobile phones in schools across England. Through a video message shared on the X platform, Sunak underscored the disruptive influence of mobile phones on education, advocating for a more focused and engaging classroom environment.

The government on Monday (19), released new guidelines empowering school leaders to enforce a mobile-free policy during the school day, including break times. This policy aims to standardise practices across schools, many of which have already seen positive outcomes from limiting mobile phone use, a press release from the Department for Education said.

Highlighting the widespread ownership of mobile phones among children as young as 12, the government points to the distractions and potential for online bullying that phones in schools can exacerbate.

This initiative echoes Unesco’s findings on the detrimental effects of smartphones on student performance and wellbeing.

To facilitate this transition, schools are offered strategies such as collecting phones at the start of the day or providing secure storage, addressing parental concerns highlighted by ParentKind’s National Parent Survey about excessive screen time.

The ban is part of a broader government effort to elevate educational standards and student behaviour, supported by a £10 million investment in Behaviour Hubs and the promotion of the Advanced British Standard in education.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan emphasised the distraction mobile phones cause, backing teachers to focus on instruction.

Similarly, Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan and Lead Behaviour Advisor Tom Bennett stressed the importance of balancing digital opportunities with educational and social development, ensuring a supportive environment for children’s growth.

ParentKind’s CEO, Jason Elsom, supported the government’s action, reflecting widespread parental concern over children’s screen time and the impact on their health and learning.

This policy aligns England with other countries that have implemented restrictions on mobile phone use in schools, aiming to foster a more conducive learning environment and promote positive behaviour.

The guidance includes providing a toolkit for schools to engage parents in creating a consensus on the policy, emphasising collaborative efforts to enhance student focus and academic success.

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