MOBILE phones have been banned from view at Felpham Community College.
Headteacher Mark Anstiss has cracked down on the devices during the school day. backed by his board of governors, he has ruled that phones carried by students have to be switched off while they are on college premises and kept out of site.
Any student who is seen with a mobile phone in the 1,300-strong college will have it taken away.
This will also apply if the phone is heard to ring. Listening to music through headphones on any device is banned as well.
The first confiscation will see the pupil have to collect the device at the end of the day. A second confiscation will mean their parents will have to pick it up. Mr Anstiss said the tough approach had been greeted with groans from some students who wanted to stay constantly connected.
But its first two weeks had been a success. “The response this term has been really great,” he said. “The vast majority of students have accepted the new rule and there have been very few incidents with students caught using their phones. And the atmosphere in school is different.
“Students are talking to each other more at social times and interacting with each other and the environment in a positive way.
“The school has always been a happy place but there seems to be an added buzz at the moment.
“We have had some very positive feedback from parents and I am delighted that the students have accepted what we have done, are just getting on with things now and seeing the benefits.”
The get tough approach to the 21st century devices – which also includes tablet computers, mp3 players and iPads – was launched after Mr Anstiss noticed more and more students were spending an increasing amount of their free time staring at screens.
Their desire to be electronically connected all the time meant they were even looking at them as they walked between lessons.
A trial phone-free period was held with Year 7 students. They initially missed the phones but soon came to enjoy the freedom from social media and liked talking to their friends more.
The idea was discussed with older students, staff and governors before it was decided by Mr Anstiss to go ahead. he also saw the policy as improving the students’ ability to talk to each other, give them important skills for future jobs and provide chances to enhance friendships.
It will enable them to stay safer from potential abuse of social media and texting. The only exception to the policy is the use of phones for learning purposes under staff supervision.