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Moray school calls for others to follow its lead in banning mobiles

By Ali Morrison

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Gordonstoun has seen improved concentration since it banned mobiles in school.
Gordonstoun has seen improved concentration since it banned mobiles in school.

A MORAY secondary is encouraging others to follow its example and ban the use of mobiles in school.

The Principal of Gordonstoun, Lisa Kerr, believes the restriction is the only way to help the next generation develop the social skills they will need to succeed in life as well as to keep them safe online.

She said: "Gordonstoun is seeing an increasing number of inquiries from parents of children who used to be active, sporty or musical but are spending increasing time on screens and are no longer interacting with other children or going out. They want their children to have real, not virtual experiences.”

The headteacher of Michaela Community School in London has stated her wish for the Government to ban the use of phones in schools as they pose a threat comparable to alcohol and cigarettes. Katharine Birbalsingh claims phones expose children to harmful content and damage their attention span.

Other schools in Scotland have reported improved exam results following mobile phone bans and the National Association of Head Teachers issued guidance to parents to warn them to supervise the use of devices.

However, educational policy still differs from school to school.

A Moray Council spokeswoman confirmed Forres Academy is strict on use in corridors to prevent damage to devices and accidents involving pupils who may be distracted.

She said: "Symbols are used in the school to illustrate when phones may be used, for example for music to help concentration, research tasks, taking photos of homework, or checking Show My Homework. Misuse of mobiles may result in devices being taken from pupils and stored until the end of the day."

Private school Gordonstoun banned the use of mobile phones during the school day in 2017.

Principal Lisa Kerr added: "Young people spending their time interacting with each other rather than their phones helps to build strong social and interpersonal skills. Being off screens also gives more time for sports, arts, expeditions and community service.

"Without decisive action, we are in danger of raising a generation who cannot build meaningful relationships with a wide range of people. This already evident at social events: whereas once you would walk into a room and strike up a conversation with someone, now everyone has their heads buried in their phones. By not allowing children to look at their phones during the day, we are teaching them to have control of their phones rather than their phones controlling them."

She added: "We use technology to make sure our students are confident in a digital world and they don’t miss out by not having phones to hand. By removing mobiles we also reduce the pressure to have the latest or most expensive model and we end the stigma attached to children who don’t have a phone at all. Limit the screen-time and young people will go out and experience big skies rather than big screens."

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