They are not the be-all and end-all. Indeed, in May an online poll in the Guardian produced a three-to-one vote in favour of a ban. Jo Debens, a geography teacher at Priory School, Portsmouth, a comprehensive with a mixed intake, was dashing out to take 30 pupils orienteering when we spoke: Pupils are texting when they should be working; they use social networking sites to bully fellow pupils; and they post pictures of their teachers on YouTube.
There is, in effect, a policy vacuum, with each school being left to decide best practice. A mobile is the same: Several years ago, however, she incorporated smartphones into lessons as she "learned to teach in a different way" — with an emphasis on independent study.
Now they can," says Debens of using mobiles. When he was head of Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, east London, he banned them and said the decision produced immediate benefits. Debens says her school provides Wi-Fi and portable dongles with Wi-Fi so pupils are not paying for their own study.
Fenn has banned pupils from making calls or sending texts on school premises and, according to the Daily Mail, the results in terms of improved behaviour and reduced cyberbullying have been dramatic. We would have death by Wikipedia if all people were doing was cutting and pasting from them.
As one teacher has argued in the Guardian, this is the future: They also use mobile internet for independent research. But if we see them in school, we confiscate them.
One of the teachers was mistakenly referred to as he rather than she. A recent report by the Scottish government concluded that mobiles were a "frequent and distracting influence", with cyberbullying especially prevalent.
I was amazed when I visited my old school recently: That consensus is that classrooms are for teaching not texting, and if the rules are clear parents will accept temporary confiscation. The poll was prompted by a statement by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the new chief inspector of schools and head of Ofsted, that mobiles in schools were disruptive.
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