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What to consider when creating your school’s mobile phone policy

September 15, 2020, 11:41 GMT+1
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  • Kaley Foran provides an overview of what to consider when creating your school’s mobile phone policy...
What to consider when creating your school’s mobile phone policy

Whatever you decide your school’s stance on mobile phones is, having a mobile phone policy in place helps you set clear expectations for everyone in your school community.

Explain why you have this policy

To manage expectations and make sure everyone adheres to your policy, it can be helpful to start by explaining to pupils, staff and parents why you have a policy on mobile phones. You should think about:

  • Parents’ expectations around their children having access to mobiles.
  • How you want staff, and others, to model appropriate phone use.
  • Behaviour incidents related to mobile phone use.
  • How you use technology in the classroom
  • Safeguarding.
  • Data protection.

Assign roles and responsibilities

You’ll need to decide who’s responsible for implementing and monitoring your policy and state this in the policy. Similarly, if governors are involved, you’ll need to explain how and what you expect them to do.

Consider mobile phone use by pupils

It’s up to you to decide on the approach that works best for your school. When deciding if, and how, pupils are allowed to use mobile phones at school consider:

  • The age and maturity level of your pupils.
  • Parents’ expectations (e.g. do they want their children to have one as they travel to and from school?).
  • Are there certain groups of pupils (like young carers) that may need access to a mobile?
  • Any trends in behaviour incidents or safeguarding information that may increase the risk of allowing phones in school.
  • If you allow pupils to bring phones to school, are they allowed to use them during the school day? Where do you expect pupils to store them?
  • If you allow pupils to use their phones during the school day, when is this allowed (e.g. only during break times). And how are they allowed to use them (e.g. no phone calls or messaging, only for games).
  • How will you enforce your policy? Don’t introduce conditions that you can’t enforce, for example allowing pupils to use their phones, but then saying they can’t use social media sites.

Make a clear link between your mobile phone policy and your behaviour policies, and set clear sanctions for not adhering to the policy

Develop a code of conduct/acceptable use agreement for pupils

If you allow pupils to bring mobile phones to school, or to use them, include a detailed code of conduct or acceptable use agreement. Your code of conduct must reflect what your policy states about pupils’ use of mobile phones.

Consider mobile phone use by staff

There are no set rules. It’s up to you to decide on the approach that works best for your school. In your policy, set out how you expect staff to use, or not use, personal mobile phones around pupils. Explain that staff shouldn’t use their phones to take photos or recordings of pupils, their work, or anything else which could identify them.

When developing your policy for staff, consider:

  • The age and ability of your pupils.
  • How you want staff to model appropriate phone use.
  • Safeguarding and data protection considerations. For instance that staff mustn’t share their personal details with parents/pupils.
  • extensive lone working (such as a site manager).
  • Sanctions for misuse of mobile phones (linked to the staff code of conduct and your staff disciplinary policy).

If a member of staff’s role requires use of a phone, try to provide one (rather than have staff use their personal mobiles) and set out the expectations for how it will be used. If this isn’t possible, set clear guidelines in your policy for how personal phones can be used in these situations.

Loss, theft or damage

Make it clear in your policy that the school does not take responsibility for phones that are lost, stolen or damaged. Explain how you make the disclaimer clear to everyone (for instance, by posting it in the school office or including it in your code of conduct). Include advice on keeping phones secure and explain how people can turn in lost phones.

Loss, theft or damage

Explain how often your policy will be reviewed, and how its impact will be monitored. For instance, through regular parent and pupil feedback, feedback from teachers and reviewing records of behaviour incidents.

Kaley Foran is a lead content editor at The Key, a provider of up-to-the-minute sector intelligence and resources that empower education leaders with the knowledge to act.