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Update from GOV.UK for: Government launches crackdown on mobile phones in schools

Posted in News

Thank you to Ian Noon, NDCS, for highlighting this information on the new Department for Education guidance on mobiles phones.


The guidance essentially advises schools to develop a policy to prohibit the use of mobiles phones in schools. The guidance is non-statutory.

The guidance helpfully reminds schools of the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils and highlights that some pupils may require access to mobile phones for reasons relating to their disability. The relevant section is copied below.

Adaptations and reasonable adjustments

Whilst schools should prohibit the use of mobile phones throughout the school day to reduce distraction and disruption, they must comply with duties such as the duty to make reasonable adjustments where necessary. There may be other exceptional circumstances where schools should consider making adaptations to their policy for specific pupils. This guidance does not provide an exhaustive list of exceptional circumstances, and schools should assess each case on its own merits.

Schools have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to take such steps as is reasonable to avoid substantial disadvantage to a disabled pupil caused by the school’s policies or practices. Allowing a disabled pupil access to their mobile phone during the school day, where it is necessary due to the nature of their disability, may be considered a reasonable adjustment and a failure to do so may be a breach of the school’s duty.

Maintained schools and academies have a duty under the Children and Families Act 2014 to have arrangements in place to support pupils with medical conditions. In meeting this duty the governing body, proprietor or management committee must have regard to the statutory guidance supporting pupils with medical conditions at school. In some circumstances, supporting a pupil with their medical condition can involve the use of a mobile phone. For example, pupils with diabetes might use continuous glucose monitoring with a sensor linked to their mobile phone to monitor blood sugar levels. Where mobile phone use allows pupils to manage their medical condition effectively, it would not be reasonable for a school to prevent this.

Beyond these specific duties, schools should recognise that a need for mobile phone access for some pupils may depend on their individual circumstances, including at home. Schools should allow flexibility in their policy for these pupils and consider including arrangements in other relevant policies (such as a young carers policy).

Allowing flexibility for individual pupils does not mean that these pupils should be exempt from all restrictions on the use of their mobile phone. Schools should develop practices which enable pupils to use their mobile phone for a specific purpose at specific times and locations, for example in a Head of Year’s office.