Kent school first in region to make pupils lock their phones away in pouches until end of day

  • ITV Meridian reporter Tony Green has been meeting staff and pupils at the John Wallis Academy in Ashford.

A school in Kent is poised to become the first in the region to tackle the problem of mobile phone usage in schools - by making pupils lock them away until the end of the day.

Studies show that using a phone in school time affects a pupils ability to concentrate - and their ability to learn.

The current policy for the 1700 students at the John Wallis Academy in Ashford asks them to keep phones in pockets or the bottom of pupils' bags, switched off.

From next month pupils will be left with their own devices, but they won't be able to use them because they'll be locked up in a sealed pouch.

Then as they leave site, at the end of the day, they can unlock their phones on a magnetic lock and then they're free to take their phones out and use their phones on their way home.

Pupils' phones will be locked away in special pouches until the end of the day. Credit: ITV Meridian

Speaking to ITV Meridian about the changes, Principal of the John Wallis Academy, Damian McBeath said: "It's a way of ensuring that, you know, we have a policy that students can keep their phones, that they are very attached to these devices.

"This means that they can keep their phones whilst they travel to and from school.

"They have access to their phones. So it's not an outright ban.

"But at the same time, it's it's protecting children inside school.

The John Wallace Academy in Ashford, Kent. Credit: ITV Meridian

"The vast majority of parents have been really, really supportive. There has been some opposition to it.

"And I think with any change, there's always going to be a fear of the unknown.

"And we're reassuring parents constantly that the reason we're doing this is for learning.

"It's for children's wellbeing, and it's the safeguarding of all children in the academy."

  • Year 13 pupils Lorin Salh and Amrah Al Howseh reveal what they think of the new scheme

Head of the Middle School, Steve Davies added: "What we find is a lot of pupils come in to Year 7 and one of the things that parents buy them is a mobile phone.

"Now, that's great  - it means I can find out where they are and they can look after them, keep them safe outside of school.

"But there isn't a single study, educational study that does not show that excessive use of screens, excessive use of mobile phone damages, pupils education and their attitudes to learning."