Should mobile phones be banned in classrooms?

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  • Councillor calls for action
  • Issue of pupil safety if phones are removed?
  • Time to teach ‘acceptable use’

A Glenrothes councillor calling for mobile phones to be banned in schools has had her request rejected by head teachers in the town.

The call from Kay Morrison, depute provost and councillor for Glenrothes North, Leslie and Markinch – and a former teacher – came during a discussion regarding school attainment levels during Wednesday’s area committee meeting.

“It’s been brought to my attention on a number of occasions that pupils having mobile phones in class plays a large part in disrupting learning and other negative influences,” she told fellow councillors and education officials.

She added: “I’m given the impression that time is often taken up by the use of mobile phones in the classroom with youngsters texting or keeping an eye on their phones unnecessarily, which is a waste of time and clearly a distraction.

“I think that we should have a policy that allows for the removal of the phone.

“It has been suggested that this measure would be draconian but maybe this is what should happen.”

However Cllr Kay’s call for a ban gathered no support from fellow councillors and was rejected by education officials who pointed to strict guidelines already in place as well as the obvious security implications for children.

“We have to recognise also there are massive security issues here and the sense of security with parents being able to contact their child for whatever reason,” said Alan Pithy, headteacher at Auchmuty High School.

“To remove the phone and then for the child to go home having forgotten to collect the phone at the end of class could leave that child extremely vulnerable.

He continued: “I actually think we have to recognise that this technology is with us therefore we have to teach sensible usage, it’s accepted that it can be a terrible nuisance when a child is taken out of class.’’

“We need to be sympathetic to the fact that we are in a technological age now.

‘‘It’s here to stay, it’s something we have to live with and we need to teach what is acceptable use.

“There are real dangers of confiscating and removing phones in many ways.”

Jacqueline Price, Fife Council’s education officer, added that there was a strict national guidance policy in which Fife have been heavily involved in developing.

“Individual schools in Fife are allowed to implement the policy in the way they see as most appropriate,” she said.