The education secretary, Damian Hinds, has said the government should not introduce a ban on mobile phones in schools, saying the decision should be left to headteachers. Hinds’ remarks contrast with those of the schools minister, Nick Gibb, , who has told the BBC: “My own view is that schools should ban their pupils from…
The education secretary,Damian Hinds, has said the government should not introduce a ban on mobile phones in schools, saying the decision should be left to headteachers.
Hinds’ remarks contrast with those of the schools minister, Nick Gibb, , who hastold the BBC: “My own view is that schools should ban their pupils from bringing smartphones into school or the classroom.”
But in a recent interview with the Guardian, Hinds said mobile phone use by pupils was a complex issue but that he supported any heads who instituted a ban.
“We have a system where, rightly, we want headteachers to be in charge of schools. They tend to know the schools best and they know the kids best,” Hinds said.
Gibb’s comments came before the unveiling of the government’s revised health, relationships and sex education guidance for schools in England, which will include advice on limiting screentime and smartphone use, as well as the effects on sleep, online safety and access to pornography.
Asked if he would support a national phone ban in state schools similar to that in France, Hinds said: “I wouldn’t want to. What I want to do is stand foursquare behind the headteacher who bans them.
“If you think about some of the complexities – if you just have a ban, what do you do about kids who are in school but after hours? Or what do you do on a school trip? Or what do you do with the child who has particular medical needs, where they might have to make an emergency call? How do you deal with that?
“If you’ve got the school making the rules – and by the way schools have always made the rules, including about banning things and confiscating things – they can allow for those difficult cases and make those adjustments.
“It’s worth saying that of course most schools do have restrictions on mobile phones, and in many cases a total ban, and I absolutely support the schools that decide to do that.”
Hinds’ comments were made inan interview he gave to the Guardianto introduce the Department for Education’s new teacher recruitment and retention strategy, which has had an enthusiastic response from the profession.
The government’s policy on school autonomy was supported by the National Association for Head Teachers.
“Mobile phone bans certainly work for some schools but there isn’t one policy that will work for all schools,” said Sarah Hannafin, senior policy adviser for the NAHT.
“Outright banning mobile phones can cause more problems than it solves, driving phone use underground and making problems less visible and obvious for schools to tackle.”