Kent school bans mobile phones to enhance performance

Several schools across Kent have banned students from using mobile phones in an attempt to prevent children from being distracted in class.

According to the Department for Education, 95% of schools in England control the use of phones in some way.

At Sandwich Technology School in Sandwich, Kent, the premises are now a ‘mobile-free zone’ and have been since September 4th.

Highlighted by the school’s code of conduct, the measure is said to have been taken to “support the well-being, social skills, academic performance and behaviour of students.”

Smartphones have become a staple of many children’s lives, but should they be allowed in school?

A Facebook post made by the School on September 3rd attracted mixed reactions – with the post being shared over 100 times and commented on over 200 times.

Smartphones have become a staple of many children’s lives, but should they be allowed in school?

One parent said: “This is the most sensible mobile phone rule I have seen. The school is in no way affecting the child’s safety or vulnerability as mobiles can be used before and after school.”

Another stated that “I have had many occasions where my children have needed there [sic.] phones during the day […] The children should absolutely not being using there phones during lessons, but this is not acceptable.”

Sandwich Technology School is not the first establishment in Kent to have made the decision to ban mobile phones on its premises.

Indeed, Marsh Academy in New Romney decided to ban them earlier this September.

The Marsh Academy in New Romney, Kent, is one school to have enacted a policy banning mobile phones.

In an interview given to Kent Online on October 1st 2018, principal Shaun Simmons stated that “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.”

A 2015 study by the London School of Economics, entitled “Communication: Technology, Distraction & Student Performance” and conducted in 91 high schools in London, Birmingham, Leicester and Manchester found that test scores increased overall by 6.41% in schools which banned cell phones.

However, some experts tend to disagree with a complete ban of mobile phones.

Joanne Orlando, senior lecturer at Western Sydney University, said in an interview to the Guardian Australia on the 28th of June 2018 that: “We should not ban mobile phones in schools because it’s important to educate children to live well in the era in which they are growing up.

“[…] Banning students from using smartphones is a 1950s response to a 2018 state of play. Mobile phone use is a complex social activity and taking phones away will likely lead to underground and hidden use by teens.”

While schools in the UK have autonomy regarding their mobile-phone policy, France recently decided to implement legislation banning the use of electronic devices in primary and junior schools (roughly, students aged 6 to 15).

The French Ministry of Education states on its website that the use of mobile phones in schools can ‘gravely damage the quality of listening and concentration necessary to learning’, that its use can incite ‘jealousy’ and be ‘vector of cyber-bullying’.

The law, passed on the 3rd of August 2018 and implemented since September, calls for mobile phones to be turned off and put away throughout the school day.

The debate is still ongoing, and in the cases of Sandwich Technology School or French schools, only time and more extensive surveys and studies will tell whether banning mobile phones proves to be effective regarding students’ concentration and overall scores, or issues of cyber-bullying.