• The Department of Education (DfE) has recently issued new guidance on 19 February 2024 on the use of mobile phones in schools.

    The guidance reflects a growing recognition of the impact of technology on education and student wellbeing. The report highlights the following statistics:

    • one in three secondary school pupils report that mobile phones are used in most lessons without permission;
    • one in five pupils have experienced bullying online; and
    • three in ten pupils cite making and maintaining friendships and their mental health as a cause of worry, anxiety or depression.

    The guidance accepts that there is currently a large variation in how different schools manage the use of mobile phones.

    One of the main purposes of the guidance is to set out how schools can implement a policy to prohibit mobile phones from school throughout the school day, including between lessons, at breaktime and lunchtime, in order to minimise distraction for students and promote a focused learning environment.  DfE suggests the school considers whether some leniency is provided to sixth formers.

    It is emphasised in the guidance that to ensure the policy is effective, all teachers and members of staff within the school must enforce the rules. There should also be transparency in regards to the school’s expectations, therefore the policy should be communicated to all staff, pupils and parents.

    The guidance is non-statutory, and does not impose any legal obligation to ban mobile phones in schools, as had been widely reported in the media. Reception to the guidance has been mixed, and some commentators have questioned whether imposing a blanket ban could potentially cause safeguarding issues, especially when children travel to and from school unaccompanied, or in cases where students have caring responsibilities and need to contact home during the day.

    Many schools already restrict the use of mobile phones within schools, and therefore this guidance may have little practical effect. However, it will support headteachers and senior leaders to develop policies which prohibit their use.  For schools and academies without such policies in place, the guidance should be used a reference point for the implementation of a policy. It will ultimately remain up to individual schools and academies to set out their own approach in any relevant policy.

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    Our Education team are based in Maidstone and Canterbury and are ready to help with any legal advice you may require so please get in touch today.


    This content is correct at time of publication

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