Mobile Phones – Consultation


Consultation on the use of Mobile Phones and ‘Smart’ electronic devices such as music players

Smart phones, tablet PCs and music players such as ‘I-Pods’ are part of the world in which we live and they provide many benefits to us all. However, they do pose significant questions for schools as for all of the benefits they bring; there is also a downside to their existence and use. ‘Smart’ technology has transformed many electronic devices into ones that can access the ‘world wide web’ in an unrestricted, unguarded and potentially unsafe way. As nearly all modern devices such as phones and I-pods now have access to the internet there are great many more uses that these devices can be turned to, some good and some worryingly harmful.

Here at Ounsdale our current policy is to ban the use of all such devices in school for students in years 7 to 11 in order to prevent the negative impact of such devices on the educational progress and social well being of our school community. This policy has recently put us into conflict with several students for whom the use of such devices is perceived as a personal right and also with some parents who do not feel the school should prevent their children from using such devices. We feel that it is time for us as a school to ask our stakeholders; the students, parents and teachers to make some decisions about how we as a school community respond to the increasing use of electronic devices across society and specifically how we manage their use in school.

Whilst we accept that allowing children to have access to mobile phones and other electronic devices does give a greater degree of convenience to families who have to drop off and collect, and also does provide a greater sense of security, it is worth going over some of the reasons why we currently have policy of banning such devises at Ounsdale High School.

Most devices with ‘smart’ technology allow unfettered access to the internet and this is a significant cause of our concern. The school internet network is protected and restricted, with blocking software and secure access. If students bring in devices that can access the internet directly it means that much of this security system is negated. Smart phones allow ‘free and open’ access to social networking sites, pornography and other unsuitable sites. Students using ‘bluetooth’ can share information, images and sites without reference to the protections our school network has. We are aware of some instances of ‘cyberbullying’, ‘sexting’(sharing of pornographic imagery) and other inappropriate use of ‘smart’ technology having  taken place within school, not via the school network, but on student’s own smart phones, and this has required a significant amount of time to investigate and remedy. It is proving impossible for the government or police to control what happens in ‘cyberspace’ and this is also the case for schools.

We at Ounsdale feel that as technology advances, instances such as these will only increase and more and more of our resources will be moved to deal with misuse of mobile and electronic devices rather than on our core purpose of educating young people and helping them to succeed in the highly competitive global marketplace. If stakeholders felt that giving more access to these devices was the preferred option it would need to be done on the understanding that the school would not be responsible for policing the misuse of technology and that students and parents would need to take full responsibility for such actions.

Added to these concerns about the misuse of internet access is the concern that such devices are very expensive and a clear target for potential thieves. The theft, loss and damage to such devices can cause some distress to both students and parents alike who often want the school to direct resources to solving these issues rather than focussing on educational matters. Any decision to allow such devices in school would need to be done on the clear understanding that these devices were brought into school with the responsibility of the students and that the school would be in no way liable for theft, loss or damage.

As a school we have investigated the idea of a ‘blocking device’ that would block mobile phone signals on the school site. However, this is not a practical solution given our close proximity to the leisure centre and housing. Therefore we will need to find a solution that is not dependent upon such technology.

Given the information above we would like to ascertain a clearer picture of what our stakeholders would like the school’s policy towards mobile phones, electronic devices and other ‘smart’ technologies.

We are therefore asking that you contribute to this discussion by identifying a preference for how we move forward. In order to do this we have identified four possible approaches for the school to follow.

  1. Have a few restrictions placed on mobile phone use in school, allowing students to use them wherever and whenever they wish. The only restriction we would place is on students not using them in lessons or in the change over between lessons.
  2. Allow students to use mobile phones at before and after school times and at break or at lunchtimes, but not in lessons and not in classrooms even if not during lesson time.
  3. Do not allow students to use mobile phones in school at all (similar to the current position), but do allow VI Form students to use phones out of lessons.
  4. Completely ban mobile phones in school for all students in the school community (this would achieve a similar effect to a blocking device)

Once we have asked stakeholders for their feedback and have a clear and consensual agreement about what our school policy should be, we can then look at how we as a community enforce the policy and ensure that all members of our community work to support it.

Please could you indicate your preferred choice by logging onto the website identified below and following the instructions given? The password which is Oun2013 needs to be entered first, and then you can choose one of the four options. This online questionnaire will remain open until June 20th.

Once collated, this information will help to inform the basis of a new ‘Mobile Phone’ policy here at Ounsdale High School.

The survey can be found here :

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