ASCL comment on Education Committee’s report on screen time

Pepe Di’Iasio, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to a report from the Education Select Committee on the impact of increased screen time on education and wellbeing.
“This report has confused an issue that is actually very simple. As research from the DfE shows, the vast majority of schools either already ban the use of phones or only permit usage at certain times.
“On one hand, the report welcomes the flexibility of the new non-statutory guidance in allowing schools to implement it in the way that best works for them, but on the other is calling for formal monitoring of this process and a move to a statutory ban if deemed necessary. The Committee also rightly points out that parents should not be prevented from being able to contact their children during their commute to school. Rather than offering flexibility, a statutory ban would seemingly leave schools with only one option – to confiscate all phones at the start of the day and return them at the end. While this may work for some schools, others just will not have the time and resources to manage such a process.
“We hope the confusion around phones in schools does not undermine the very valid concerns this report raises about increased screen time, cyberbullying, social media and the impact this is having on children’s mental health. While schools do their best to teach about these dangers, the simple truth is that almost all of the time young people spend online is outside the school gates and it is large technology companies that wield the greatest influence. We urge the government to do all they can to properly regulate social media and protect children from the damaging material they too often see on these platforms.”