Phones could be banned in schools to return ‘discipline lost’ in lockdown

Gavin Williamson wants mobiles to be banned in schools to help children concentrate (Picture: Getty)

Long periods in lockdown have impacted children’s ‘discipline and order’ and could require tougher school rules, including a phone ban, the Education Secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson said it was ‘inevitable’ that the pandemic will have affected pupils’ attitudes towards learning, as he urged schools not to let ‘out-of-control behaviour’ disrupt classrooms.

His comments come as the Department for Education prepares to announce details of its £10 million ‘behaviour hub’ programme, which it aims to have operating in time for the summer term.

Schools struggling with misbehaving children will be assisted by 22 ‘lead schools’ with strong reputations for having disciplined pupils, Government officials have said.

Writing in the Telegraph, Williamson described how mobile phones in schools distract from ‘exercise and good old-fashioned play’. He said a ban on devices could help prevent cyber-bullying and inappropriate use of social media.

He said: ‘While technology has been invaluable keeping children learning during lockdowns and we support its use, it’s now time to put the screens away, especially mobile phones.’

The Education Secretary has made it clear he supports the use of laptops in class (Picture: Getty Images)
A ‘behaviour hub’ programme is being launched by the Department for Education (Picture: Rex)

Williamson noted that he was still supporting the use of tablets and laptops to aid learning in class, but stated that the school day should be a ‘time for learning’ in a ‘calm and orderly environment’.

He added: ‘Maintaining good discipline is an absolute must in any classroom and is one of our key priorities.

‘Out-of-control behaviour will also destroy the wholesome and happy environment that every school should have, leading to bullying, and turning playgrounds from a place of joy to a jungle.

‘Even before the pandemic we knew the effect of misbehaviour on lost learning time was significant and that it affected disadvantaged pupils more than any other.

‘That’s why I am totally behind schools and colleges taking firm action to create a disciplined and calm environment, and putting in place a strong behaviour culture where students are taught how to behave well and are clear about what is expected of them.’

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