France bans mobile phones in schools

Cute pupils using mobile phone at the elementary school

France are ramping up efforts to pare back the amount of time children spend using their mobile phone by imposing a complete ban during the school day. The French education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, announced that all students in the country’s primary, junior and middle schools (that’s all children up to the age of 15) will be banned from using their mobile phones at anytime during the school day from September 2018.

While most education establishments in France already have a ban on phones during lesson time, pupils can currently still use their phones during breaks. Mr Blanquer, speaking on the French TV programme, Le Grand Jury, said “These days the children don’t play at break time anymore, they are just all in front of their smartphones and from an educational point of view that’s a problem.”

According to a report in The Telegraph on the French mobile phone ban in schools, studies suggest that a significant number of pupils continue to use their mobile phones in class and receive or send text messages. A Paris headmaster, Philippe Tournier conferred that up to 40 per cent of punishments are mobile-related, indicating that mobile use during lesson time is a significant problem.

The French government are keen to address the problem of mobile phone use amongst children, which they say is a public health issue, but headteachers across France are sceptical about how the rule can be enforced.

So, should the UK follow France’s lead? According to a snap poll carried out by Tes (the Times Educational Supplement), 72 per cent of teachers in the UK believe the UK should follow suit. A previous survey by Tes, Mumsnet and First News in 2016 revealed that teachers were split over the issue, with many teachers stating that phones were an important resource in learning.

On the recent snap poll, teacher and Tes writer, Joe Bipham, said: “I believe that protecting pupils for a few hours a day from the potential dangers is a good thing though and I would support it. However, clear guidelines about not having them out at all in school work as well as a national ban.

“Banning mobile phones in class doesn’t lead to technologically illiterate pupils who are unable to function in the modern world. Phones are a distraction, they are a safeguarding issue and they are divisive status symbols that can have some pretty awful consequences.”

Teachers in the UK are the one’s battling mobile phone use in the classroom. If teachers are calling for a ban, perhaps we should listen.

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