Banning mobile phones could backfire on teachers – NAHT

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The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has urged schools to think twice before issuing a potentially impractical and counter-productive ban on mobile phones.

Commenting on suggestions by Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw that he may recommend banning mobile phones in schools as part of a crackdown on discipline, Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said teachers needed to think very carefully about the implications of adopting such a policy.

Mr Hobby said: “Why is the HMCI seeking to deny the ‘real world’ issues for pupils in the classroom?  Of course the presence of mobile phones in schools needs to be handled carefully but many teachers are choosing to use their technology creatively and as part of the lesson.  An outright ban would send a message to pupils that schools are out of touch with the world in which they live and ignore the many positive benefits of new technologies in education. Banning mobiles will only serve to make them more attractive and instead, pupils would be better served by learning to use them effectively.  Why would we expect teachers to police any such ban anyway?  Should they search teenagers at the school gates?

“It is also true that parents feel greatly reassured that they can reach their child in an emergency and will be reluctant to observe this policy. Just one incident of a child being attacked on their way home from an after-school activity because they have not been able to contact a carer and let them know that pick-up plans have changed, would be one too many.  Far better to use these technologies as a force for good than attempt to coerce the genie back into the bottle.

“Mobiles can certainly be disruptive in schools, and most schools will be sympathetic with the need to regulate their use. They are also aware of the vulnerability of young people to theft. We would suggest combining the use of technology boxes, where pupils hand in their ‘phones at the start of lessons and retrieve them afterwards, with a clear and consistently enforced policy on appropriate use of mobile phones in the classroom.

“Ofsted should inspect the overall quality of discipline and behaviour in schools and leave it to the schools themselves to determine the precise methods and policies based on their needs.”

 

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