Education Expert Challenges Government's Ban on Mobile Phones in Schools

Education Expert Challenges Government’s Ban on Mobile Phones in Schools

As technology has become ubiquitous in our lives, the debate about whether it should have a place in the classroom is ongoing. The government made their stance on the matter clear at their party conference on Monday, when the Education Secretary announced that head teachers in England will be told to ban pupils from using mobile phones at school. One education leader believes this ban is short-sighted and overlooks the nuanced role that technology can play in education.

Dr Ryan Thomas Williams, Online Lecturer at Teeside University and author of “An exploration into the pedagogical benefits of using social media: can educators incorporate social media into pedagogy successfully?” is voicing his concerns over the new government policy. It is a decision that he believes places too much focus on the challenges of technology, rather than considering the many benefits – including how mobile devices can help to bridge the growing educational gap between the richest and poorest pupils.

“We used technology throughout the pandemic, when pupils and teachers were encouraged to use phones and tablets to engage with curricula. This was successful when good pedagogy and leadership were evidenced”, says Dr Williams. “There are clear pedagogical benefits to using mobile phones in the classroom, such as creating a personalised learning experience or creating a dynamic classroom through quizzes and videos.”

He adds, “Technology and phones also have the potential to narrow the equity gap in English language provision greatly. This is one of the widest gaps that we have in education. Additionally, by the end of secondary school, the most disadvantaged students are, on average, two years of learning behind their better-off classmates. Technology can support us with narrowing the gap between wealthy and poor pupils.”

Dr Williams understands the concerns surrounding the use of mobile phones in the classroom but argues that education policy needs to embrace it as part of future-facing learning. Technology is undeniably a central part of modern life. It’s presence in society should be adapted to in the classroom rather than banned outright. We should, Williams argues, be embracing technology in education in a transformative way.

“Generally, I think policy that involves education should be made by teachers. They are experts in pedagogy. They work with the students.”

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