Thousands vote on TiG poll to ban mobile phones in schools
Thisisgloucestershire visitors have voted overwhelmingly for a ban on the use of mobile phones in Gloucestershire schools.
In a poll carried out by TiG, 81 per cent of 3,000 respondents were in favour of a ban.
The results reflect a widespread feeling that mobile phones are a growing distraction for pupils, despite being increasingly commonplace and becoming an important educational tool.
But there are differing views among headteachers, policy makers and parents as to whether mobiles should be banned altogether or incorporated into school life.
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Gloucestershire County Council said the responsibility for monitoring mobile phone usage among pupils in the county’s schools was the responsibility of individual headteachers.
Ian Kellie, head teacher at Sir Thomas Rich in Gloucester, said: “Pupils can bring phones to school but they are to be put away, turned off and used in emergencies only.
“Pupils come here to work and that’s what they should be doing during the school day. We haven’t used them for teaching at the moment.”
At All Saints Academy in Cheltenham, principal Peter Kingham said that mobile phones were now being used as a teaching aid within school life:"Mobile phones are a part of technology that can be used to enhance the learning of young people, develop their skills and raise attainment. It is true that mobile phones can be a nuisance but our job is to educate proper use as they are a part of modern day life.
“It is at the discretion of the teacher whether a mobile phone can be used in the classroom for educational purposes, otherwise we do not expect pupils to use them in lessons.”
Richard and Lynette Thompson from Framilode near Gloucester have two children Melanie, 16, and Dominic, 13.
Melanie is away at boarding school but Dominic is a pupil at Marling School in Stroud and Mr Thompson said it was essential Dominic, who uses a Samsung Galaxy S smartphone, could be contacted.
He said: “Stroud’s seven or eight miles away from us and there’s no bus service so we need to be able to get in touch with him – there’s a safety aspect to it as well as the convenience of knowing when he needs picking up.
“I know that the phones get confiscated if the pupils at Marling are caught using them in lessons. I can understand that the school wouldn’t want them being used in class but he needs to be able to use it outside lessons, especially with after-school activities changing location and time.”
John Pemberthy, divisional secretary of the National Union of Teachers in Gloucestershire, recognised the growing significance of the issue. He said: “It certainly is a problem. Most schools have a policy that if children do bring phones into school that they should be switched off.
“But the problem is that children become addicted to using their phones and it ends up as a serious classroom distraction.
“Although there have been attempts to try and incorporate the use of smartphones into lessons, children have great problems with self-discipline and that’s where the problems arise.”
FACTS AND FIGURES (latest available figures from Ofcom, October 2011 and July 2012)
• Two in five children aged 12-15 now have a smartphone, with ownership higher among girls
• Over half (52 per cent) of all 5 – 15 year-olds has a mobile phone and one in five of all children in this age group has a smartphone
• Between the ages of 12 and 15, 87 per cent of children have a mobile phone
• Girls use their phones more than boys in all seven activities (taking photos, music, sending/receiving photos, videos, social networking, visiting website, instant messaging)
• Nationally, over four in ten smartphone users say their phone is more important for accessing the internet than any other device.