John Kyrle High School headteacher, Julian Morgan, strongly supports the recent guidance from the Department for Education to ban mobile phones during the school day. “Young people need space in the day to talk, play, and imagine. Schools are better without mobile phones,” Mr Morgan told the Gazette.
Julian Morgan had already taken the initiative to implement a “gate to gate no mobile phone policy” at John Kyrle High School, even before the new guidelines were issued. “Technology is pivotal but should be structured. In decades to come, we might look back at our current interactions with small screens with amazement,” he said.
The new guidance, announced by Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, aims to improve student behaviour and boost attention during lessons. “This ban supports the hard work of teachers and continues to build on government’s reforms backed up by nearly £60 billion by 2024-25,” according to official sources.
Tom Bennett, the national school behaviour advisor, lauded the move. “This is a fantastic move forward for ensuring that students are able to work, learn, and grow in a place free from the distracting influence of mobile phones,” said Tom Bennett. The guidance will have limited exemptions, such as for medical reasons.
Last year, Julian Morgan shared insights into what led him to ban mobile phones at John Kyrle High School. “I see no place in school for mobile phones. The joy of a school with no mobile phones is that you see kids communicating with each other,” Mr Morgan said.
He went on to add, “During lunch breaks and social times, kids need to be engaging with each other, not with phones. It causes problems and anxieties. I’ve always been quite traditional with it and said no.”
Julian Morgan also addressed the safeguarding aspect. “Unfettered access to technology can put students at risk. It makes it difficult to ensure the safeguarding of students,” he said.
In his experience, Julian Morgan has not come across a high-performing school that allows common and open mobile phone usage. “The general consensus is beginning to agree with that; there are very few schools nationally that allow kids to wander around with mobile phones all day,” he concluded.
The ban also builds on a £10 million investment in behaviour hubs, supporting up to 700 schools to improve behaviour. It follows a behavioural taskforce led by DfE’s behaviour tsar, Tom Bennett. If schools fail to implement the new guidance, the government will consider making it statutory.