Behaviour: Mobile phones in class

24th September 2010 at 01:00
The problem: My key stage 4 pupils won't stop playing with their mobile phones. They have them on silent but now and again I see them looking at their phones or I sense that is what they are doing. How can I stop them?

What you said

"If you are seen in class with a phone you get a one-hour Saturday detention and the phone is confiscated and a parent has to come to collect it. Works brilliantly."


"Our pupils stuff them down their bra or underpants if anyone even thinks about attempting to confiscate them."


"Put their phones in a designated `phone box' on your desk at the start of the lesson. They can see their phones are safe, they don't have them confiscated for a full day and `emergency' calls can be made at break."


The expert view

Make sure that any response is in line with your school's policy on the use of mobile phones because if you start imposing different consequences you are likely to expose yourself to much heated debate. Do not challenge pupils based on the "sense" they are using phones, only apply the consequences if you are certain.

When I sense that a pupil is furtively checking a phone I often say that they have their "phone glaze" look on and make a point of saying: "But I'm sure I must be mistaken as none of you would be so disrespectful as to use your phone during the lesson." This sends a clear message that I am aware of what they might be up to but does not directly confront anyone based on my suspicions.

If you catch a pupil using their phone in your lesson, try to deal with them in an unconfrontational manner to start with. If your policy says that phones will be confiscated if used in lessons, politely ask them to hand over the mobile phone - ending the sentence with "thank you" rather than "please", showing that you expect compliance with your instruction. If the pupil does not hand you their phone, calmly tell them that you expect them to make the right choice. Do not allow them to disrupt the flow of your lesson and damage the learning of others.

At an appropriate time, when the rest of the class is engaged with an independent or group activity, politely ask the pupil concerned to speak to you outside the classroom. This removes any audience that they might be playing up to. Once there, ask them to hand over the phone again. If they refuse again, explain that you will use the school's sanction system. If this does not work and the pupil has still not complied with your request you will need to refer the incident to the appropriate member of staff to be followed up. Make sure you are involved in the follow-up.

Mark Lewis is deputy headteacher at Marshland High School in Norfolk. For more behaviour advice, go to



- Only apply the school's sanctions if you are certain a pupil is using their phone.

- Make it clear that using a phone during the lesson is disrespectful.

- Try to avoid confrontation, which gives the pupil the opportunity to play up to the rest of the class.


- Introduce your own sanctions - make sure you stick to school policy.

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