Published: 00:01, 12 October 2018
A grammar school head has brushed off claims mobile phones are a distraction, saying they are a “valuable learning resource".
Mark Lester, the new man in charge of Folkestone School for Girls', made the statement after another school claimed banning them had sparked an improvement in behaviour.
Shaun Simmons, principal of the Marsh Academy in New Romney, explained children engaged with each other more since the ban.
Yet Mr Lester said he was happy for pupils to freely use their phones at lunch and break-time.
He said: “Our current mobile phone policy is that we see these as a very valuable learning resource.
"Mobile phones are not allowed in lessons except at the teachers’ discretion – when they can provide a very valuable resource for learning.
"Students can for example access video tutorials for extra clarification, they can use the phones for research purposes and even access multiple choice quizzes with live feedback to the teacher who can see how the ‘voting’ is going.”
Harvard Business Review recently released a study illustrating the addictive pull of the mobile phones.
A poll on our website revealed 75% of the 1,000 people who voted believed they should be banned when on school premises.
Mr Lester said allowing phones “is more often to steer conversation than to stifle it and in my own discussions with students in older years the attraction of mobile phones does seem to wane".
He said: "Students report that they use them if alone on the bus for example but if there are friends around then of course they prefer a real face-to-face conversation.”
He added potential cyber bullying and children accessing inappropriate material is tackled by filtering software and a “zero tolerance” policy.
“We do not have an endless list of dos and donts and trust and respect our girls to make informed and intelligent decisions about their own behaviour,” he added.
Marsh Academy principal Shaun Simmons said banning mobile phones had improved pupils’ behaviour at his school after curbing the amount of time children spend on social media.
He explained: “The positives are very clear around the school, with children interacting and talking to each other much more at lunch and break times.
“The number of online issues between students that have been reported to us are at the lowest level since social media became common.”
Introduced last month, the policy came amid national reports of online bullying and children accessing inappropriate material. Pupils are allowed phones in school to make contact with parents during journeys but while on the premises they must be switched off , stored in lockers or handed in.
The school, based in Station Road, is one of many in the UK to adopt the new policy this year following studies that showed mobile phones can hinder attention.
Harvey Grammar, Folkestone Academy and Brockhill School did not respond to requests for their mobile phone policy.