At the start of September, I wrote my post No more mobiles about why we took the decision to ban mobile phones from school. There were several reasons, the foremost being the level of distraction they created. That original post generated quite a bit of interest, as did this follow up after the first week. Here’s the view from six weeks in.
Testing the boundary
It probably won’t surprise teachers that after a smooth first week with only a handful of students using their phones, a few more decided to test the boundary in the second and third weeks, with a few more phones in evidence and a couple of arguments. The peak was only 24 phones in a week, though. I don’t think four or five a day is that bad, and once it became clear that the new rule was here to stay, that quickly dropped back to a few a week. We also had a couple of disgruntled parents, but they also complied with the policy when it was explained to them (one not to happy that his daughter’s plea that he must come in immediately to get her phone was not exactly the case!)
The Art of Conversation
As we approach the half term holiday, the main impact of the ban is as it appeared in the first week – students are spending much more time talking to each other face to face. At break and lunchtime, our cafeteria, social spaces and playgrounds are full of groups of children, chatting, smiling and laughing. The phones do come out again at the end of the school day, but they don’t seem to be missed in school.
As we thought, we have made some concessions for individuals who are, for example Young Carers or use apps to assist because English is an additional language. Our policy has also identified a few pupils with several phones – four confiscated from one, three of which parents didn’t know about! Clearly a concern and that is being followed up.
Hopefully we have set the pattern for the year ahead. We are now planning specific ways in which pupils can use mobile devices purposefully, perhaps on Bring Your Own Device Days. As always, your comments are very welcome.