England’s ruling Conservative Party plans to issue new guidance Monday banning smartphone use in schools, including during breaks from lessons, according to several sources.
While some schools already have restrictions in place, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan’s new guidance would set a country-wide ban.
England to ban smartphone use during school day
The announcement expected Monday at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester, England, comes after years of debate and will leave it to individual schools to enforce the ban on smartphones like iPhone how they choose, according to the Daily Mail.
The guidance comes after a UN report in July recommended banning smartphones from schools to reduce disruption and curb cyberbullying.
“Gillian believes mobile phones pose a serious challenge in terms of distraction, disruptive behaviour and bullying,” A Tory government source told the Daily Mail. “It is one of the biggest issues children and teachers have to grapple with, so she will set out a way forward to empower teachers to ban mobiles from classrooms.”
Not the first country to ban phones in schools
In June, Finland banned smartphones in class to address a decline in exam results due to disruption, the latest country to do so.
The Guardian and other sources cited Unesco, the UN’s education, science and culture agency, as saying evidence links excessive mobile phone use “to reduced educational performance and that high levels of screen time had a negative effect on children’s emotional stability.”
“The digital revolution holds immeasurable potential but, just as warnings have been voiced for how it should be regulated in society, similar attention must be paid to the way it is used in education,” Unesco Director General Audrey Azoulay said.
“Its use must be for enhanced learning experiences and for the wellbeing of students and teachers, not to their detriment,” the director continued.”Keep the needs of the learner first and support teachers. Online connections are no substitute for human interaction.”
This is the third time the Conservative Party has tried to introduce such a measure, which would cover schools in England but not in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.