Headteacher’s mobile phones ban infuriates parents who have to pick up their children’s confiscated handsets at end of school day

A school has banned mobile phones for its pupils which has left parents fuming as they are forced to collect them at the end of the day.

Parents of pupils at the The Romsey School in Hampshire claim they have been forced to take time off work to pick up confiscated phones.

Criticism of secondary school’s policy comes following new guidance from the government which supports banning phones at school.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan will order schools to outlaw smartphones during lessons, and also in breaks, in a bid to end disruption and make it easier for pupils to focus.

A government source said new guidance would be issued to schools across England requiring them to take action. 

Previously at The Romsey School, which is rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted, confiscated phones could be collected by pupils at the end of the day.

But now, as part of a new government-led crackdown, the school has implemented a new rule stating they can only be returned to parents.

The Romsey School headteacher Annie Eagle. The new policy comes following new guidance from the government which supports banning phones at school

The move is said to have ’caused havoc’, with ‘a lot of disgruntled parents’ claiming it is ‘unacceptable and unnecessary’.

The school, run by head teacher Annie Eagle, said its decision was made to protect ‘pupils’ mental health’.

One unnamed parent said: ‘If it’s a Friday the school won’t give them back until 3pm Monday.

READ MORE: Mobile phones are to be banned in schools as education secretary Gillian Keegan is set to announce a dramatic intervention

‘If kids don’t hand them in, they are put in exclusion.

‘As students come from all over, they need their phones for apps to use online banking, to pay for public transport or food and to keep safe.’

The parent added: ‘It is causing havoc with the school.

‘A lot of disgruntled parents have to give up work time to collect them.

‘It’s understood phones are a cause of disruption and to take the phone away for the day is understandable as long as the students can collect at the end of school.

‘Why not put all phones in a box at each lesson and collect them at the end? It’s unacceptable and unnecessary stress for all involved..’

The Department for Education released new guidance saying phones should be banned to improve behaviour and backed head teachers in banning them throughout the day, including break times.

The government says it aims to tackle disruptive behaviour and online bullying, claiming the move will raise standards by increasing focus.

A spokesman for The Romsey School said staff believe the rule will help protect pupils’ well-being and improve learning.

A statement said: ‘The Romsey School has high expectations of our pupils across all aspects of school life and our pupils’ mental health is at the heart of everything we do.

Parents of pupils at The Romsey School, pictured, claim the new policy is causing ‘chaos’ and they are forced to take time of work to collect phones

Gillian Keegan will order schools to outlaw smartphones during lessons, and also in breaks, in a bid to end disruption and make it easier for pupils to focus

‘There is much evidence widely available which highlights that mobile phones can be distracting to learning and can have a very negative impact on pupils’ health and well-being.

‘It is for this reason we have changed our processes.

‘All parents have regular opportunities for feedback and discussion with staff. They have also received school communications about any changes to these policies or processes and parents will therefore be aware of the recent updates.’

Some schools already ban the use of mobiles, with pupils required to hand in their phones each morning – or face the punishment of a detention if they are caught using them.

But many others still permit their use, particularly during breaks, despite growing evidence of the damage they cause.

Many parents are content for their children to carry a phone so that they can make emergency contact while travelling to and from school.

But the presence of smartphones in the classroom – and constant notifications from apps – has been blamed for causing disruption, as well as fuelling cyber-bullying and thefts. In June, Finland became the latest country to ban phones in class in a bid to reverse a decline in exam results.

The following month, a major United Nations report recommended smartphones should be banned to improve learning and tackle classroom disruption and cyberbullying.

Unesco, the UN’s education, science and culture agency, pointed to evidence that excessive mobile phone use was linked to reduced educational performance. It said countries should ensure they have clear objectives and principles to ensure digital technology in education avoids harm – both to pupils and wider democracy.

Unesco’s director general, Audrey Azoulay, said that ‘attention must be paid’ to the way the ‘digital revolution’ is used in education.

Speaking about the prospect of a nationwide ban in schools, the government’s school behaviour advisor Tom Bennett said: ‘This is a fantastic move forward for ensuring students are able to work, learn and grow in a place free from the distracting influence of mobile phones.

‘Schools that have already banned them report students are safer, happier and able to focus far more than they were before – and it’s popular with them too.’

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