School lifts mobile phone ban, prompting technology debate

Caroline AllenContributor
A Welsh school has done a u-turn on banning mobile phones. [Photo: Getty]
A Welsh school has done a u-turn on banning mobile phones. [Photo: Getty]

A mobile phone ban has been lifted at a school in Wales after the head teacher said it caused “friction” and impacted the pupil’s education.

Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi in Holyhead, Anglesey, now uses mobile phones as a tool for education.

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The move has encouraged debate amongst parents and pupils, but head teacher, Adam Williams, insists he hasn’t seen any negative impact on the pupil’s behaviour or wellbeing.

The Welsh government does not take a stance on the matter and said that it’s up to individual schools to make a decision.

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The lifted phone ban has been deemed by some as controversial, particularly after recent research suggested there are links between psychological stress and social media use.

The survey of 1,800 people found that Twitter was the most stress-inducing social medium.

Secondary school teacher, Sophie Alderson, weighs up the pros and cons of mobile phones in schools: “We can understand that parents like to know their children are safe on the way to or from school or if they’re staying late for a club.”

“However, I’m increasingly seeing them used for the wrong reasons, like bullying or filming fights at school. They can be a huge distraction in class which can be tough for teachers. The threat to confiscate them is a tool we can use, but sometimes it’s just easier if they don’t have them in the first place.”

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Parents debating the topic on social media are torn.

One person wrote: “I love the unambiguous nature of a total ban, but also the positive mental health benefits of being away from screens and being truly present in the moment for part of the day learning how to socialise in real life without a technological crutch.”

“I have tried, and failed, to see any truly beneficial use of mobile phones in the classroom beyond novelty. Bravo to those schools who have banned them!” Another agreed.

Not all parents agree with something as finite as a total ban, though, with many saying that children use mobile phones in school to do things like “measure time intervals, to look up melting points of substances, as a converter from °F to °C.”

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Michelle Westgarth from Happy Tokens makes teaching resources for schools and parents that include ways in which to restrict and monitor “tech time”.

She talks about her experience of technology at schools: “Children appear happy enough to put phones away in their bags at the beginning of the day and only retrieve them at the end of school.”

“As a parent of five, three of my children have mobile phones including one diagnosed with ADHD and the phones are vital for me being able to prompt and remind him in particular. All of the phone have a tracking app which gives me peace of mind, allows me to plan comings and going and affords a level of security from age 19 -11.”

“My personal opinion is we need to teach our children to regulate their time on their phones and not ban.”

READ MORE: A school has banned parents from using mobile phones on the playground

When the ban at Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi was in place, pupils were not allowed to keep their phones in sight. This ruling meant that teachers were spending a lot of time challenging pupils who were discreetly checking their phones during lessons.

Teachers’ union, NASUWT say that schools should take a clear stance on mobile phones and technology at school with a clear and robust policy.

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