Mobiles in schools: Accrington students embrace phone-free days

A scheme to make high school students hand in their mobile phones before lessons has been a massive success, according to staff and pupils.

Mount Carmel Roman Catholic High School in Lancashire implemented the policy at the start of the school year.

Pupils said they had a greater focus and fewer distractions.

Staff believed in addition to the academic benefits it was also making the children safer from issues such as bullying and online abuse.

Schools in England were given new government guidance last month intended to stop the use of mobile phones during the school day as part of a plan to “minimise disruption and improve behaviour in classrooms”.

Deputy head teacher Paul Dugdale said the Accrington school “came at this originally from a safeguarding angle”.

He said: “We can control what they see online in our IT systems but they could be accessing anything on their own phones.

“We knew they wanted their phones for on the way to school and going home especially in winter going home in the dark – so this is the best of both worlds.”

Pupils put their phone in a locked cabinet each morning and there is also a scanner in school which detects any phones not locked away.

Year 8 pupil Harry said: “It has been really good when your phone is locked away you are not distracted.”

Talia, also Year 8, added: “Bullying has gone down and I feel safe knowing it is in a locker where nobody can take it and it cannot fall out of my blazer pocket.”

Year 7 student Darcy said she was daunted when she started at the school, but now embraces the policy, she added: “At first I thought I don’t want my phone taken away but now I feel I can focus on my learning.”

Teachers wondered how older students would react but Nicole, a Year 11 pupil, said: “It was quite a shock at first and we didn’t like it but there has definitely been a big difference and it is better to be less distracted and more focussed.”

Mr Dugdale added: “The fact they find it a benefit is really pleasing to hear.”