Mobile phones are set to be prohibited in schools across England as part of the Government’s plan to minimise disruption and improve behaviour in classrooms.

New guidance issued on 19th February backs head teachers in prohibiting the use of mobile phones throughout the school day, including at break times.

Many schools around the country are already prohibiting mobile phone use with great results. This guidance will ensure there is a consistent approach across all schools.

By the age of 12, 97% of children have their own mobile phone, according to Ofcom. Using mobile phones in schools can lead to online bullying, distraction and classroom disruption which, in turn, can lead to lost learning time.

Last year, Unesco called for smartphones to be banned from schools as evidence showed it was linked to reduced educational performance and that excessive screen time had a negative impact on children’s wellbeing.

Schools will be supported to prohibit mobile phone use with examples of different approaches including banning phones from the school premises, handing in phones on arrival at school, and keeping phones securely locked away at school.

The guidance will respond to concerns from parents about mobile phones, with the latest data from ParentKind’s National Parent Survey, revealing that 44% of parents are concerned about the amount of time their children spend on electronic devices, rising to 50% of parents of secondary school children.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “Schools are places for children to learn and mobile phones are, at a minimum, an unwanted distraction in the classroom.

“We are giving our hard-working teachers the tools to take action to help improve behaviour and to allow them to do what they do best – teach.”

Lead Behaviour advisor to the Department Tom Bennett commented: “Mobile phones may be ubiquitous, but we have a strong and growing understanding of how damaging they can be for a child’s social and educational development. And it’s the least advantaged who suffer most.

“Many schools already have some kind of policy on phones, but this guidance provides a clear steer for everyone, including parents, about what’s right and what’s not for the wellbeing of the child.

“Heads can know that they’ll be backed in their attempt to build safe and nurturing cultures, and they’ll find advice about how to make schools a phone-free environment. And when that happens, everyone wins.”

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “Growing up in today’s digital world provides immense opportunities but this should not come at the expense of our children’s wellbeing or education. That is why we have passed world leading legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world for young people to be online.”

Chief executive of Parentkind Jason Elsom said: “Society has sleepwalked into a position where children are addicted to harmful ‘electronic drugs’, and have no-escape from their digital dealers, not even within the relatively safe grounds of their schools.”

The latest government data finds around a third (29%) of secondary school pupils reported mobile phones being used when they were not supposed to in most, or all, lessons.

Schools have seen success in prohibiting mobile phones through tactics such as introducing lockers with charging points for students to ensure they don’t come into classrooms.