Category: Education

How UK Schools Deal with Cell Phones

Cell Phones in UK Schools

Teachers have always had to fight for the attention of their students. Not long ago they would only be dealing with gossip, note passing, and the occasional trading card. The latest distraction of the mobile phone in the classroom can often be much more difficult to control.

Some teachers have even reported children watching Netflix in the middle of class. There a varying opinions on what should be done regarding the use of mobiles phones by students.

How UK Schools Approach Mobile Phones

Some countries – notably France – have strict laws against cell phone use in schools. There are no laws in the UK that prohibit children from using them. The decision on how to deal with phones is left to individual schools. It can get confusing and certainly far from consistent. Some schools do ban them outright, and then there are other schools that embrace phones as a teaching aid and encourage kids to use them as part of their schoolwork.

In Shiplake College in Henley-on-Thames for example, children that use their mobile phones between 8:15 and 5:45 are given a detention. The headmaster of the school, Gregg Davies, admits that phones can be a great tool, but he found children were being distracted and even losing their ability to communicate in person. The use of cell phones in school was therefore dropped since the policy was introduced.

Then there is Brighton College, where students are encouraged to play games like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit during free periods, instead of using their cell phones. The move is an effort to encourage pupils to socialize with each other more without having to use mobile devices. There are also varying bans on phones where certain pupils are allowed them on certain days of the week; effectively weaning students off their phones over time.

How Phones can Help

The reality is that phones aren’t all bad and studies have shown that banning mobile phones can help in education. Students say that having their phones on hand can improve their engagement, motivation, productivity, and creativity. Some teachers also believe that mobile phones can help, and there have been successful integrations into the classroom.

Mobile phones can give students all the information that they could ever need. A phone by itself can educate students and there lots of phone apps that are even encouraged by schools, particularly those that build relaxation skills and help students find resources. The potential for phones as a learning tool is practically endless.

The Law on Confiscating Mobile Phones

One thing to consider is this; who is responsible if a phone is confiscated and then gets lost or damaged? Would it be the teacher who confiscated the phone, the student who brought it to the school, or the school itself?

Legally, the school has indeed taken possession of the phone. However, in the UK, Section 94 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 says that neither the teacher or the school is responsible for loss or damage of items confiscated as a form of punishment. It also provides no statutory liability for items that are lost in other ways.

There are a few caveats though. The disciplinary penalty has to be lawful; it has to be reasonable and proportionate to the “crime”. Schools must also clearly communicate their policy on mobile phones to students. The school can get in trouble if the pupil who has their phone confiscated was not aware this could happen. Also, teachers are expected to take reasonable care to ensure that items they confiscate are safe, such as storing them securely in the staff room. At the end of the day, unfortunately for the students – the law is ultimately on the side of the teachers and schools.

Should Schools Ban Mobile Phones?

Matt Hancock – the Culture Secretary for the UK – says that more schools need to ban mobile phones. He admires headmasters who don’t allow students to use their phones and believes social media can facilitate bullying. He personally doesn’t allow his children to own their own phones and use social media, but doesn’t think it is the responsibility of the government to legislate against children using phones and technology. He believes it is up to parents and schools to do the right thing, rather than being told to do so by the government.

Schools are all handling cell phone use in their own way. Some are for them and some are against their use. The Culture secretary himself is against them, but doesn’t plan on attempting to introduce legislation to prohibit them.

Read more about kids and cell phones, including Cell Phone Safely Tips.

Wiki for Kids – The Filtered Wikipedia

Our Wikipedia for Kids search resource is located on the top of our new website for easy access along with our additional safe search tools.

Wiki for Kids is a filtered Wikipedia resource that provides articles in Simple English. It is similar to Wikipedia’s Simple Edition with the added benefit that our site filters out content that is not appropriate for children and teens.

The internet is a very valuable and powerful tool, putting a world of information at our fingertips. The web has definitely changed the world, including the way kids do their research for school, homeschooling, or general curiosity.

We have partnered with the KidzSearch Wiki to safely meet these needs.

Students at home and in school need access to tools that are designed to provide results that are:

  • Safe – because potentially inappropriate images and text should be filtered out. It’s a no brainer.
  • Readable — because it’s good to widen your vocabulary, but new information should also be easy to understand instead of overwhelming for young children.
  • Accurate — because if there’s ever a place that attracts misinformation, it would definitely be called the internet.

Those are three of the many reasons why parents and teachers have to do their own research before putting a child in front of the keyboard for some fun, modern learning.

About Wikipedia (Simple English Edition):

Wikipedia is a free open content online encyclopedia where people from anywhere in the world can contribute information on any topic in different languages. Wiki articles can be edited to make corrections as well. The Simple Edition of Wikipedia uses words and grammar that is ideal for children, and also provides a shorter more concise version of the original article.

Wikipedia is not considered a 100% credible source of authority information for academic research, because it has been created as an easily accessible index and/or textual condensation of primary and secondary sources for information about anything and everything.

Since Wikipedia can be updated by any person, at any time, parents and teachers should instruct children to confirm information through reliable sources.

Examples of reliable sources include published works, almanacs, guide books, survey articles, timelines, and user guides. A scholar may also use a bibliography, dictionary, or encyclopedia as either a textual condensation or a secondary source.

With that being said, Wiki for Kids can be a good starting point for ‘easy to access’ child-oriented research. While it’s important that kids use a second source with more authority and credibility on the topic, Simple Wikipedia Edition is also great for young minds because:

  • The information you are researching will be there in one easy to navigate online encyclopedia.
  • It will definitely help you understand where you can look for more information on that topic.
  • Since the language (words and grammar) used is much simpler and easier to understand, Wiki for Kids is ideal for young children who are already learning something new and challenging.

So now that we’ve established the free benefits and expected limitations of Wikipedia, here is some information to help kids explore a topic.

Online Research Tips for Kids:

  • Anytime you write or publish information that you found online, you must include a citation for the original resource. Give credit where credit is due!
  • Cross check facts using multiple sources, and choose the most reliable source for your citation.
  • Avoid downloading any programs or images that you find online until you check with an adult first.
  • Learn about internet safety to keep from clicking links to inappropriate sites.
  • Advertisements on the internet are deceiving by design. You have not won anything!
  • Never give out your personal information on the internet.
  • When creating usernames, do not include like your name or birth date. This counts for giving out personal information.
  • When in doubt, ask for help!
  • Embrace safe learning!

Conduct a Safe Wiki for Kids search at the top of our website.

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