Are we making the right call on mobile bans in schools?

Mobile phones in schools do not mix – according to some. Many schools have bans of various forms:

  1. total
  2. allowed to have them as long as they are not seen
  3. using them when allowed to do so by the staff
  4. using them as long as they do not abuse the privilege

Surely there must be a better way to organise this?

A principal from a large high school overseas told me how strict their ban was, even having a ‘wand’ to scan students as they hid them “in some unusual places!” When I asked how many had been confiscated this term, the reply was a staggering 754 (really!!). Their policy clearly did not work!

What we do know is that mobile technology will not go away, it’s here to stay. It’s getting, quicker, smarter and increasingly user friendly. Mobiles are not a ‘life style choice but maybe are a ‘must have’ in today’s life.

Speaking with three sets of students in the past few weeks – there wasn’t one without a mobile, nor one could imagine life without one. Many used it out of school to photograph course work, use the calculator function, research through the web, communicate and so much more.

Surely it is better to harness this technology in learning in schools rather than ignore it. The power of smart phones is often very much quicker than school equipment. Students know how to use them intuitively. As Professor Stephen Heppell always says “ A switched off device means a switched off student”

We know the issues regarding filming, cyber bullying, theft. But there are strategies and protocols that schools use to minimise these. Students want to use this kit – getting them to devise the policies for their use will help prevent abuse.

The Scottish Government has recently started to consider the development of a Technologies for Learning Strategy. Join the conversation at