A pioneering headmistress has revealed that banning cell phones has transformed her school, rescuing kids who were "glued to their devices."
Dorcan Academy in Swindon, England, told The Sun how forbidding cell phones from school has improved grades, made kids happier, and reduced bullying.
Sherryl Bareham, who runs the 750-pupil high school, told The Sun on Sunday: "The decision to ban phones came as a direct result of me trying to have a conversation with a student and them not even looking up to notice me. They were glued to their mobile."
"I want our students to be personable, communicative, and polite and this encouraged the exact opposite," she added. "We faced opposition at first from pupils and parents. In the end, they came round."
Bareham explained how the ban has helped results rise year on year for the past 4 years.
"Students have to talk to each other, improving their ability to communicate orally, which helps when you have to write. It also improves relationships. We used to spend a lot of time following up on 'bullying' incidents."
Students at Dorcan Academy must turn off their cell phones and put them in their bags for the school day, only allowing them to be turned back on when they are outside of the school gates.
The only exceptions are during classes like PE, where they are to be used for educational purposes such as videoing performances.
Bareham continued: "Our policy is 'see it, hear it, lose it'. If we see or hear a mobile phone, it is confiscated and the parents have to collect it. This is non-negotiable.
"We have the occasional parent who isn't happy that they have to come and collect that phone.
"We explain that it is their child's choice to break the rule, which has led to them having to come, so it should be them they are angry with, not us."
In 2015, the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics found that by banning cell phones, test scores for students aged sixteen years old improved by 6.4 percent. This boost in concentration is "equivalent of adding 5 days to the school year".
According to Pew Research, around ninety-six percent of people of high school age or less own a cell phone. However, access to phones has led to more incidents of bullying and poor academic performance, creating mini waves of increased crime across schools. During the 2017–18 school year, eighty percent of public schools recorded that one or more incidents of violence, theft, or other crimes had taken place, amounting to 1.4 million incidents.
Recent statistics show that 1 in 5 students report being bullied while at school, with fourteen point five per cent of students experiencing bullying online.
Leon Hady, who was head at the Stone Soup Academy in Nottingham, England, and is now chief executive of teacher development specialists Guide Education, believes phones are becoming a "gateway" into more malicious activities for young adults.
"We found mobiles were constantly being used in lessons for social media and gambling. Some used them to watch p*rnography in the toilets during break and one of the biggest issues was sharing nudes. We found one girl soliciting herself from her phone. I've seen a child threatening to kill another pupil over messages."
"In the end, we decided that children would be made to hand in their phones at the start of school so they could be kept in a locker," he explained.
Do you think it's a better and safer learning environment if students were required to denounce their phones for the school day?