At Baysgarth School we believe our number one priority is the safety and happiness of every child. We have a legal obligation to keep children safe from harm and ensure we exercise our duty of care to teach students how to keep themselves safe. In September 2018 the updated statutory guidance for schools, Keeping Children Safe in Education, puts legal responsibility on schools to ensure we are actively supervising and monitoring what students are accessing online. This legal duty upon schools does not just relate to what students access in lessons on school computers, but also includes any content they might access at breaks and lunchtimes on their phones via 3G and 4G.
In July 2017 we conducted a survey of staff, students and parents regarding the use of mobile phones and the impact on students’ mental health. We had noticed an increase in the number of students needing support for mental health and wellbeing issues and a common factor emerging was social media and the use of mobile phones.
The overwhelming response was that this relationship was causing a negative impact on students’ wellbeing. 89% of parents thought that the use of mobile phones has caused an increase in bullying and 70% believed that mobile phones are increasing anxiety and stress in their children. This confirmed to the us that the school needed to continue to make this a priority focus and it continued its research and monitoring in this area using ICE time, tutor times and assemblies to address the issues.
In 2018 we consulted with staff and parents again, following a review of the incidents we have dealt since September involving mobile phones and social media. These range from cyberbullying, accessing inappropriate materials and distribution of illegal or inappropriate images. In all cases the use of the mobile phone was both in school and at home. The consultation was aimed at eliciting the views as to how we should update our mobile phone policy to ensure we adequately protect and safeguard all students and staff, working in partnership with parents.
The response from parents was overwhelming and we thank you for the honesty in which you responded and your shared your experiences. It is clear that as parents you have the same concerns for children as we do here at Baysgarth as staff. The common thread was that as parents you believe that it is students’ access to social media that is your biggest concern and the impact this can have on young people.
With such a level of concern, school and parents working together need to tackle this issue directly for the wellbeing of all our children. As a school we believe we have to educate young people and ensure they are equipped to use technology and social media for their future lives and we will invest in more opportunities for this and extend this to parents, offering more support and guidance around the risks posed in online activity. As parents ourselves, we know that technology evolves so quickly it is incredibly difficult to know what new social media platform or mobile app is safe.
We feel that to do this, we need to restrict the access within school to mobile phones, in line with outcomes of the consultation. In September 2018, the school policy will therefore be simplified to:
- Mobile phones can be used within lessons to enhance a child’s learning experience, but only with the teacher’s explicit permission. If no consent is given in advance, the use of mobile phones will not be permitted.
Mobile phones have an educational use and we have used these within lesson as an educational tool. We believe this is still important to be able to educate the students in their value as they move through their education. Staff supervision in these lessons is critical and the school has a clear policy for searching, screening and confiscation, which will be exercised in the event that a mobile phone has been used for social media during lessons.
- Mobile phone use will not be permitted in any other area of the school at any time.
Mobile phones can have a use for students and being able to contact your child on the journey to and from school is critical in keeping them safe at these times. However, when students are at school there are other means of communication that can be used in the event of an emergency, which means that there is no educational value to a mobile phone being used on the school site outside of a classroom.
From September, if you need to contact your child during the school day, you should call the main reception on 01652 632576 and the school has mechanisms in place to get messages to your child if necessary.
For non-urgent enquiries or information, please use the firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
This guidance applies during all times when the school building is open to students, extending to Enrichment and intervention sessions, including during holidays. Students will be receiving more detailed information which we will share with you over the coming weeks about consequences and there is a leaflet with FAQs available from tutors on Meet the Tutor evening.
The challenge of changing the way social media is used by our children is not going to be easy, but with school and parents working together, reinforcing key messages and boundaries, we will have happier, healthier children in the long term.
- Mobile Phone Policy 2018 - Sanctions (156.81 KB)
- Mobile Phone Leaflet for Parents (503.48 KB)
- Use of Mobile Phones in School Presentation (students) (804.58 KB)