MOBILE phones have a place in schools despite Ofsted’s top inspector calling for them to be banned.
That is the view of three Vale headteachers The Bucks Herald spoke to following a call by Sir Michael Wilshaw for a blanket ban on bringing mobiles to schools because of the disruption they can cause.
Rules regarding phones at The Grange, Cottesloe and Mandeville schools vary.
The Cottesloe has the strictest policy, banning mobiles from both the classroom and break times.
Headteacher Nigel Fox said: “Once pupils come into school they remain in their bags and should not be brought out.
“For some youngsters it is almost becoming an addiction to have the phone in their hands so we have to work hard on that.”
He said a handful of pupils flout the policy and have their phones confiscated until the end of the day.
However, Mr Fox resisted demands for a complete ban.
“You do have the safety aspect.
“Youngsters here are bused in so when it is dark or maybe they have missed the bus they can contact their parents. They can be extremely helpful in these instances.”
At the Grange phones are allowed to be used at break times – but those who abuse the rules can have their mobiles confiscated for up to a week.
Headteacher Vince Murray said: “Our policy is no mobile phones in and around the building – but if you are in the playground, yes, by all means. It is something we have had in place for a number of years and parents are generally supportive.”
Although phones can be confiscated for a week, Mr Murray added there is a ‘caveat’ that mobiles are returned if parents can prove a genuine need for them.
But he said he could understand where Mr Wilshaw was ‘coming from’.
“It is not a massive concern for us but at the same time if you are in a situation where students are texting and emailing and the phones are going ping all the time then clearly it is disruptive to teaching taking place.”
Mandeville School used to have a blanket ban in place – but headteacher Peter Patchett said rules have been relaxed and that phones can actually ‘improve learning by allowing access to databases and statistics’.
However, unless a teacher instructs that a mobile can be brought out, they must otherwise remain on silent in the pupils’ bags, he said.
But he said the school was always re-evaluating the policy.
“If we feel young people are abusing that privilege then we will ban the devices from coming into school.”
> Have you got an education story? Contact news editor Adam King on 01296 619764.