Mobile phones are causing increasing problems in schools as they become a 'must have' accessory for teenagers. The Evening Mail asked pupils from the Children's Express journalism programme in Birmingham to find out how schools have responded.
|After what happened to Sarah Payne, people feel they need to keep in touch with their parents.|
Two thirds of secondary schools in Birmingham have banned pupils from using mobile phones, a survey carried out by Children's Express has revealed.
Only 20 schools now allow children to have mobiles on the school premises and they insist they have to be switched off in lessons.
Head teachers said they had taken the tough line because too many lessons were being interrupted by ringing phones or children sending text messages. They were also concerned about theft of mobiles and their potential to be used for bullying purposes.
But many pupils believe the rules are unfair and say schools are ignoring important safety issues and the fact that parents, especially those who don't live in the family home, want to keep in touch with them by mobile.
Children's Express surveyed all 76 secondary schools in Birmingham. Fifty schools said they had banned pupils from bringing mobiles on to school premises; 20 schools said mobiles were allowed as long as they were switched off during lessons; and the remaining six schools failed to respond.
More than two thirds of schools confiscate a pupil's phone if it goes off in a lesson and some will only return it if a parent comes to school to collect it.
‘It destroys the students learning’ - Head teachers’ views
Sue Bates, head teacher of Frankley Community School, doesn't allow mobiles to be switched on during lessons.
She said: "I think that it is incredibly insulting to the teacher if a phone should go off in the middle of the lesson. It destroys a lesson, it destroys the students learning and I think it makes everybody lose their concentration which means nothing effective is happening."
Janet Putman, head teacher of Castle Vale School, accepts the need for pupils to bring phones into school.
She said: "We decided that we were in the 21st century and that to suggest that mobiles weren't useful was silly. We also felt they were an important safety issue for young people to be able to contact home. I think it would be totally unfair to ban them altogether.
"As a parent I'd be concerned because I'd want my child to be able to get hold of me. It's too easy for people of my generation to think everything is going to be a problem, and actually it's a major technological change that we've go to work with, not against."
At Sheldon Heath School, pupils are not allowed to bring mobiles into school unless in an emergency but head teacher Pat Brimson believes that may change in the future.
He said: "In a few years time we might be asking children to turn their phones on in lessons. Mobiles may become integral to their learning in the classroom, they could become as common place as the pen."
‘I feel safer with a phone’ - Children’s Views
Sam Hunt, aged 13, of Longbridge said: "Children shouldn't be banned from having mobiles. What if you want to use your phone for safety? After what happened to Sarah Payne, people feel they need to keep in touch with their parents."
Jonathan Hudson, aged 13, of Northfield said: "I think mobile phones can be a very useful tool in the classroom. We keep getting told that communication is everything and you could do internet research on them if you can't get on a computer."
Jeff Stamps, aged 14, of Edgbaston said: "I haven't got a mobile phone but I think I would feel safer with one, because I wouldn't need to worry about where a pay phone was and I could always phone my parents if I needed help or something."
Mathew Dent, aged 12, of Weoley Castle said: "I once got my phone confiscated by a teacher because the battery was low and it bleeped in a lesson and I think that was reasonable. But another time after school had finished I was playing with my phone by the gate and got is confiscated and I think that's unfair."
Chris Singleton, aged 13, of Selly Oak said: "I always bring my mobile to school. I've had my phone stolen once and I never got it back. I had to write a letter to my form tutor but they said that there was nothing they could do."
Andrew Hopkins, aged 13, of Northfield, said: "I feel safer with a phone, if I know it's in my pocket or my bag then I know that if anything happened I could get help."
About the team
This article was produced by Jeff Stamps 14, Jonathan Hudson 13, Andrew Hopkins 13, Chris Singleton 13 and Mathew Dent 12.