Have your say: Mobile phones in schools

To ban or not ban mobile phones in schools - the debate continues

Mobile Phone LearningBack in June, Amanda Spielman, Ofsted Chief Inspector, supported schools who ban mobile phones, stating that their use in the classroom was "dubious" and that technology was to blame for "low-level disruption". This appeared to be supported by an LSE study which indicated that the banning of smartphones in schools boosted results. You can read more in our previous blog.

These comments and findings would suggest that a ban would be a positive action, although this is only seemingly supported in principle by the DfE.

In a recent speech at the Confederation of Schools Trusts conference, Damian Hinds, Secretary of State for Education, made reference to the recent ban in France. In his speech he stated that he believes "that kids in schools should not be on their phones", adding "I strongly support schools that ban phones. But when people asked me if I was going to follow the example of France and impose a national ban – I said no".

This leaves schools with the option to make the decision based on their own school experiences.

As reported in the Telegraph recently, schools are taking a number of different actions, from banning phones from school premises, having children hand in phones on arrival at school, "invisibility" polices and so on, supported by acceptable usage polices from both the students and parents.

However, taking a different approach is as school in Folkestone. Just last week, Kent Online reported that Folkestone School for Girls is not banning phones as they find them to be "valuable learning resources". The headteacher added "We do not have an endless list of dos and don'ts and trust and respect our girls to make informed and intelligent decisions about their own behaviour"

Have your say: Should mobile phones be banned in schools?

Do you think a ban would be beneficial in your school, or do you think that allowing children to have them in school can be useful for learning? Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts and experiences, or simply answer the question, should mobile phones be banned in schools.

You can now also take part on our mobile phone survey - all responses are anonymous. Click here to complete the short questionnaire

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on November 09, 2018 09:57

Mobile Phones in the Classroom

Are mobile devices a positive or negative influence in schools?

Mobile PhoneThere has been much in the news recently about children having phones in schools.

Today, the chief inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman supported schools who ban mobile phones.

As reported by the BBC, she is expected to say that the use of phones in the classroom in “dubious at best”. She claims that technology is to blame for “low-level disruption” and that taking a tough stance will endorse a tough behaviour policy in school.

This announcement follows news last week from the headmaster of Eton who endorsed the confiscation of mobile phones from pupils, having younger pupils hand their phones and mobile devices in at night-time.

A recent LSE study discussed in the Guardian found that “banning smartphone use in schools boosted results”.

The benefits of time away from digital devised are widely reported – indeed, this week it has also been reported that gaming addition has now been declared a media disorder and can be treated on the NHS. This reiterates the damage that persistent use of technology could cause.

However, is banning mobile phones in schools a step in the right direction.? Should schools instead be using the technology to encourage and educate about the many elements of our now connected lives?

It’s fair to say that opinion on this is divided. In reality, the capability mobile devices provide for computing, education, communication and organisation are extremely positive. However, finding the right time and place for both use and education is a situation yet to be resolved.

Have your say
How do you feel about mobile phones in school? Do you allow them in the classroom? Have you had good or bad experiences when it comes to mobile devices in school? Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts and experiences.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on June 21, 2018 10:59

Is that a phone in your pocket?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Words are important!

Although there is ongoing debate as to the degree, most linguists would agree that the principle of 'linguistic relativity' suggests that language has an influence on certain kinds of cognitive processes.

In short, vocabulary can effect not just the ability for an individual or society to communicate a concept, it may have an effect on their ability to formulate certain abstract concepts.

In '1984' Orwell famously explores the link between language and cognition as his authoritarian state implements their created language "Newspeak" to make it impossible for people to think critically about the government.

In everyday life we can cite examples of the sanitising of our own language through the use of euphemism to soften impact or deflect deeper thought. Corporate executives talk of 'down sizing' rather than 'mass redundancy' or the reality of putting people out of work. Our military reports on 'Collateral Damage' rather than civilian casualties.

Whether by nefarious design or for social expediency, the use of these terms arguably lessen the emotional impact of the signal.

Within a specific domain words are used to communicate meaning with precision. Where a lay person may attack the use of 'computer jargon' there is very good reason why a computer scientist may wince when someone says Internet when they mean World Wide Web - they are very different things.

Language can be fun too of course. Where would a comedian be without the ambiguity in language that is the basis for all puns? The lyricist, novelist, playwright or poet would be rendered impotent without the tools for linguistic mis-direction, simile and metaphor.

What has all this to do with e-safety?

Well, let us consider the Smartphone.

Although the term originated in the late nineties it is really the release in quick succession of Apple's iPhone in 2007 and the Google Android operating system in 2008 which defines the characteristics of what we currently think of as a Smartphone.

Curiously though, if you list the features and functions of a Smartphone, those that would be considered to be characteristics of a telephone pale when stacked up against those which would be associated with a computer.

Would it not be far more sensible for Smartphones to be known as 'Pocket Computers'? They are, after all mostly powerful computers in a small form factor with telephonic capability rather than telephones with extra features.

For a while, the pocket computer and the mobile telephone coexisted, though the pocket computer itself had developed out of the 'personal organiser' - a glorified electronic diary and address book.

As technology improved it was inevitable that the inefficiency of carrying two devices when the functionality of both could so easily by combined within a single box, would see their eventual combination.
In fact, strictly speaking we should add the camera and personal media player to the list of discrete gadgets which have also be subsumed into this single class of device.

There are several obvious reasons why the resultant devices would popularly derive a name evolved from phone as opposed to computer, among them:
i) More people habitually carried mobile phones than personal organisers
ii) The devices required monthly contracts with telephone companies for their primary network connection
iii) Personal organisers had something of a corporate or work related air about them
iv) Verbal communication is an extremely prominent facet of the human interaction
v) Telephones are 'old' comfortable technology whereas computers still have a certain perception of geeky complexity to many

It is partially recognised that these devices are not just 'telephones with extras', hence the coining of the term Smartphone.

When it comes to e-safety, most problems are caused by a mis-perception as to the level of risk. Problems arise when inadequate precaution or education is put in place due to holes in knowledge or gaps in understanding.

The concern is that if our language guides us to conceptualise Smartphones too much in terms of 'Telephones with extras' rather than as powerful portable computing devices, there is a real e-safety risk. Locking down a computing network or adding parental filters to computers in the home have no impact on a device which is capable of independent connectivity and can attach to any number of WiFi networks in cafes, shops and urban areas.

Smartphones are capable of communicating with pretty much all the social networks and other online services which cause e-safety concerns.

In reality, the capability these devices provide for computing, education, communication and organisation are extremely positive and do out-way the risks, but more can be done to mitigate potential problems.

These devices are in the hands of young people and are in your schools and in your homes. They need considering with the same importance as other more obvious computing devices and where prohibition or technical encumbering of capability is not possible or appropriate, education must fill the gap.

Now it is quite likely that the etymology of the word 'phone' will fall out of the public consciousness and be banished to antiquity along with many words we still use today, the origins of which have long been forgotten. In time the word 'phone' may well change it's meaning to 'pocket computer' or encompass whatever this device's next evolutionary step may be. Until that happens however, we must make sure that we don't underestimate the risks and capabilities of these devices by continuing to conceptualise them as being at their heart, a simple portable telephone because we lack the appropriate language to describe them otherwise.

Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on November 13, 2013 16:23

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