THE minister for school standards in England said that pupils should be banned from taking smartphones into school.
Nick Gibb stated that ahead of the government publishing new guidance for schools, expected to address internet safety, social media and online gaming.
It is expected to say children should be taught to limit the amount of time they spend online.
Schools have the power to ban phones from being taken on to the premises.
However government policy is that it is the responsibility of head teachers to determine whether this is appropriate.
Patsy Kane, executive head teacher at the Education and Leadership Trust in Manchester, said Gibb’s plan was “missing the point on just how fantastically useful mobile phones can be for learning.”
Kane underlined that her multi-academy trust encourages the responsible use of smartphones during lessons and that teachers do remove the devices if they are used inappropriately during school time.
She added: “There’s a fantastic range of apps now for revision – and the students are really motivated to use them.”
The trade union that represents head teachers has expressed its scepticism about outright bans.
But Gibb said: “Many schools have already taken the decision to ban mobile phones from the classroom.
“While this is clearly a matter for the head teacher, my own view is that schools should ban their pupils from bringing smartphones into school or the classroom.”
Katie Ivens, of the Campaign for Real Education, said she supported a classroom ban but that pupils should be allowed to carry phones to and from school for safety.
What is known as “relationships education” is to become compulsory from September 2020, with schools being encouraged to teach it from September of this year.