Devices in class – good or bad?

As a school governor. I’m well aware of the debate around allowing pupils to use their devices in class although I have never been part of the decision. Recently, that discussion has come back into the public domain.

Ban devices in class

In this article by ‘For the sake of our children we must get rid of mobile phones in the classroom’ Yasmin Alibhai Brown pleads for their removal citing issues with:



Academic progress

Cyber bullying

among others. She refers to the commisioning by the DfE of an investigation by Tom Bennett the behaviour tsar whose own opinion is that phones in particular should not be banned altogether but used wisely and at the teachers discretion. He also believes children should not have these devices until they are 16 or are under adult supervision.

Crowd Sourced responses

I turned to my colleagues who teach and work within education and are what you would call tech savvy.
Miles BerryMiles Berry

Banning smartphones sounds not far removed from banning the Internet. It’s possible, but why would one want to? As educators we should be looking to make the best use of technology to enhance learning and teaching. We should be teaching me inspiring young people to use technology well, with a purpose, responsibility and discernment. We should be keeping an eye out that they’re keeping themselves safe, and they’re avoiding the dangers of distraction and addiction.

Doug Dickinson

The world has moved on. In just about every facet of life digital connectivity is seen as a way of seeking and doing. The idea of banning I see as institutions trying to exercise control of something that, in reality, they have no power to control. The fact that many of our schools go almost no way towards making positive of what are the most powerful learning tools available to them is a disgrace. No wonder there is disillusion amongst young people who are constrained by an education system that makes little or no attempt to live in their world.

Steve Wheeler

Why Schools shouldn’t ban smartphones 

Devices Supporting inclusion

Carol AllenCarol Allen

Very simple answer from me..yes! I am taking devices to mean all of them, and the answer is still yes. Most of my students rely on devices for a variety of access routes to communication, learning and life. For a student to have control of a device which may allow translation to their language; speech to text input for recording; text to speech translation to support reading/revising; visual access to a wider range of teaching materials; specialist software/apps covering a whole range of issues…and on and on and on… is vital. We don’t take their glasses or hearing aids off when they enter a classroom, or say they may not use their wheelchair in school. Inclusion is about access…and this is not just for those who have clearly identified needs..everyone deserves access.

Cherryl KiddCherryl Kidd

I would say yes! In SEN they are a vital part of the resources needed by many children for communication. Mobile devices allows the children a certain amount of independence that would otherwise be denied to them.
Also good for fine motor skills and hand eye co ordination. Can also teach basic skills using them. It’s a huge yes from me Julia.

Another report

Towards the end of last week a report ‘Students, Computers and Learning‘ was published by the OECD ( Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) which from the media was suggesting that devices in class could be detrimental to standards.
Back to Miles Berry for some of what was actually said in the report

School systems need to find more effective ways to integrate technology into teaching and learning to provide educators with learning environments that support 21st century pedagogies and provide children with the 21st century skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world. Technology is the only way to dramatically expand access to knowledge. To deliver on the promises technology holds, countries need to invest more effectively and ensure that teachers are at the forefront of designing and implementing this change

… and so

I’m not a classroom practitioner so am not in a position to say one way or the other but I feel that this response to my question from Rachel Jones makes a great deal of sense
Rachel Jones

Yes 100% if the teacher is confident that what they are being used for adds to the learning that is taking place

One thing is certain, it will be a debate that will continue to run!

 Are mobile devices allowed in your classroom? Are you a school governor? What is your policy?


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  • It’s an interesting look at both sides. Yes, there are definitely downsides, but when I was a student I always took my laptop to classes in uni. It was great to be able to quickly type my notes instead of handwrite. The world is moving towards technology and children should be encouraged to use it in a way that helps them learn and develop. More children may surprise their teachers and use them for learning or engaging with class. If it does become an issue, then consider banning them.

    • 5sc1

      Many thanks for stopping by Alex. I think schools are finding it tricky with behaviour as some students can’t leave mobile phones alone.

  • Danny Morton

    Not in school where I work let alone class. I think technology make it easier to access / research topics, send / recieve homework etc. I see technology helping make it easier for students to achieve but I don’t see it making students achieve more highly than they otherwise would, ICT type subjects excepted. Certainly in the context of the school / classes I work in / with, it may be different for other contexts.

  • Richard

    Trying to ban mobile phones from being used is akin to the Luddites of the early Nineteenth century trying to halt the development of machines.
    Embrace change.
    Do not fear change.
    Ban using phones for teenagers and you put the hide and seek game into play.
    Plan well and trust the students to do the right thing.
    The one or two who don’t have their phones removed will then be the ones seen to putting phone use at risk and then the teenagers blame them and not the authority of the school.

    • 5sc1

      Hello Richard and many thanks for sharing your views. I have to say I’m there with you having been a governor in a secondary school where the mobile battle rages every day!

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