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Head teacher says banning mobile phones has improved behaviour at Marsh Academy in Romney Marsh

A head teacher has told how banning mobile phones has improved pupils' behaviour at his school after curbing the amount of time children spend on social media.

Marsh Academy principal Shaun Simmons 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."

The Marsh Academy principal Shaun Simmons
The Marsh Academy principal Shaun Simmons

Introduced early this month, the policy came in the wake of reports of online bullying and children accessing inappropriate material.

Now, while students are allowed phones in school to make contact with parents during journeys, they must be kept switch off while on the premises, 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.

Mr Simmons went on: “The academy has come a long way and behaviour is very good compared to how it used to be, but the one area where, like every other school in the country, it had got worse, were the issues caused by use of social media.

"These ranged from accessing inappropriate materials through to online bullying.

"While most of this happened outside of the school day, the difficulties it caused were carried into school.”

The move came following a recent Marsh Academy study that showed many students were reluctant to give up their devices.

However an "overwhelming majority of parents" said they were worried about their child’s online activity.

Mr Simmons praised pupils for following the new rules after expecting to be met with resistance.

Shaun Simmons says pupil behaviour has improved after banning mobile phones
Shaun Simmons says pupil behaviour has improved after banning mobile phones

"We expected a difficult start to the year and some resistance, but in reality other than a few reminders in the first week of term we simply have not seen students using their phones on the school site.

"The only thing we did not anticipate is how loud the canteen would become since all of the students are talking to each other now instead of staring at their phones," he said.

The pull of mobile phones lately was demonstrated in a study by Harvard Business Review.

It found people’s concentration could be disrupted even by the presence of a switched-off phone on their desks.

In two tests involving 800 people, participants who left their switched off phones outside the room achieved “statistically significant” better results than those who left them in their pockets.

Those who left their phones in their pockets scored higher than those who left them on their desks.

The researchers said it was a fundamental human trait to automatically pay attention to things that are habitually relevant to us.

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