I am writing to you about an imminent change to our mobile phone policy. This is not a decision I have taken lightly, particularly as the vast majority of our students use their phones sensibly in school, however, I know that some of you will welcome this change, as you share our concerns about the harmful effects of rising mobile phone use on young people’s well-being and social development. There is much talk and research around the decline in the psychological well-being of young people, and while some of this has been attributed to isolation resulting from the pandemic, research shows that this decline started well before the pandemic and is directly connected to the enormous increase in smartphone use and social media. These two factors have radically changed every aspect of students’ lives, including their social interactions and their mental health. And the problems aren’t only limited to mental health. Extended screen time degrades attention and concentration skills, making it harder to maintain focus.
As well as concerns for general phone/social media use and its impact on well-being, we are increasingly concerned about on-line safety and our ability to regulate this. We constantly provide information and education, to our students, about keeping themselves safe on-line, and we have excellent content filters on our Turton Wi-Fi network. And yet, phone companies have reduced their data charges, meaning that more and more pupils have access to 4G throughout the day and we cannot regulate this. From a safeguarding perspective, I have to ensure that no child is exposed to harmful content, on-line, whilst in school. The only way to do this is to ban mobile phones from being used anywhere on school premises, at any time.
School is possibly one of the last places that can reasonably hope to compensate for the negative effects of the universality of mobile phones. We believe that we can create sustained space and time for students to engage with each other and their learning tasks, without distraction: face-to-face and pen-to-paper. In addition, by banning mobile phone use on school premises, we can be sure that students are not exposed to harmful content, whilst in our care. Thus our new mobile phone policy will come into effect from Monday 5th June (immediately after May half-term).
Mobile phones (including smart watches) are not allowed to be used on the school site, inside or outside the building. Students are permitted to bring them with them, to school, so that they can be contactable, by parents, on the journey to and from school. However, they must be put away in bags or blazer zip pockets, during school hours and whilst on the school premises.
If a student is seen with their phone, even if they are not using it, it will be confiscated:
- Confiscation for a first time, in the school year, will result in the phone being kept until the end of the same day, for the student to collect at 3pm. Parents will be informed.
- Confiscation for a second time, will result in the phone being kept overnight, for collection by student, at 3pm the following day. Parents will be informed.
- Confiscation for a third time, will result in the phone being kept until the end of the week, for collection by parents, between 3-4pm on Friday.
Thank you in advance for your support with this and if you have any queries, please get in touch.