Gibb: Schools that ban phones 'have higher test scores'

Minister says evidence supports school mobile phone bans – but heads tell DfE to instead focus on ‘big policy issues’

Schools that ban mobile phones have higher test scores, says minister Nick Gibb

Schools that restrict the use of smartphones have better attainment, according to schools minister Nick Gibb.

Mr Gibb was speaking to MPs at a meeting of the Commons Education Select Committee when he was asked if there was anything stopping headteachers from ensuring that pupils do not have their phones with them in the classroom throughout the school day.

He said: “No, there’s nothing to prevent schools from doing that, and we support schools who take those decisions – because there is evidence that schools that restrict the use of smartphones are seeing higher test scores and higher attainment as a consequence.

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“So, we support headteachers in doing that and what the secretary of state is saying is that we want more schools to be looking at that evidence, and taking the decision to improve attainment by restricting the use of mobile phones, but, ultimately, this is a matter for the professionals and headteachers to decide."

Government 'droning on' about mobile phone bans in schools 

Earlier this month education secretary Gavin Williamson set out a case for phone bans in schools with the launch of the DfE’s "behaviour hubs" programme.

However, headteachers today accused the government of being “hung up” on the issue of phones.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “The reality is that schools already have in place robust policies on mobile phones and there isn’t some sort of mobile phone free-for-all happening in schools.

“The exact detail of those policies will undoubtedly differ from school to school, but that is rightly a matter for school leaders who know what works best in their school, rather than ministers who don’t.

“The government really does need to focus on the big policy issues that are important in further raising the attainment of pupils – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds – rather than constantly droning on about mobile phones.

“It needs to be looking at more investment in the early years, how to improve support for struggling schools, doing more to tackle child poverty, and looking again at how our qualification system really doesn’t work well for all our children.

"These are the issues which will make a real difference, and it needs to stop getting hung up on mobile phones.”

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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