School mobile phone crackdown is a non-policy for a non-problem

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to a government “crackdown” on mobile phones in schools with the publication of new guidance on Monday (19 February).
The amount of time that some children – and adults for that matter – spend on mobile phones is concerning because it can amount to addictive behaviour and is often accompanied by access to completely inappropriate and damaging material. 

“However, this compulsive use of these devices is not something that is happening in schools – where robust polices are already in place – but while children are out of school. Most schools already forbid the use of mobile phones during the school day or allow their use only in limited and stipulated circumstances. 

“We have lost count of the number of times that ministers have now announced a crackdown on mobile phones in schools. It is a non-policy for a non-problem. 

“The government would be far better off putting its energies into bringing to heel the online platforms via which children are able to access disturbing and extreme content. It might also be a good idea to concentrate on the actual problems in the education system such as the chronic lack of sufficient funding and a staffing crisis which is making it increasingly difficult to provide a full curriculum and maintain standards