[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 18:11 GMT
Curbs call on pupils' phone usage
Mobile phone - generic
Teachers say clear policies are needed on phone use
Teaching union representatives have called for schools to be made "mobile phone free zones" following the filming of an alleged attack on a head teacher.

Concerns have been raised after a "happy slapping" incident last week in which a 15-year-old boy allegedly assaulted a Borders school rector.

Last year, the EIS union passed a motion calling for more responsible use of mobile phones in the classroom.

It has been working with some councils on offering guidance to schools.

Larry Flannigan, a Glasgow principal teacher who sits on the EIS union's education committee, claimed that though this appeared to be the first videoed incident involving a teacher, there has been a rise in "happy slapping" incidents reported.

In light of what has happened here and incidents elsewhere I feel there should be a total ban on mobile phones at schools
Jock Houston
Borders councillor

He is now in discussion with Glasgow City Council, which he described as being "very supportive" of policies aimed at minimising the disruption caused by mobile phones in classrooms.

"At one end you have the happy slapping type of incident but we also have the inconvenience of phones going off in lessons, parents having conversations with pupils in the middle of a class via the phone," he said.

"There is a need for phones to be used in a sensible and responsible way.

"There are some buildings where people automatically switch their phones off and don't use them and we'd like schools to be a similarly mobile phone free zone."

While he admitted there were technical ways of blocking phone use, Mr Flannigan said he would prefer to educate pupils that using phones wasn't always the "done thing".

'Emergency reasons'

"It's really a case of establishing policies whereby pupils know if they use their phone inappropriately it will be confiscated and they will have to wait until the end of the week until it is returned," he added.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council confirmed that it was currently drafting a letter to schools offering guidance on the use of mobile phones in schools, which it expects to send out by the end of the week.

Judith Gillespie of the Scottish Teacher Parent Council (STPC) said that schools should insist phones are switched off, confiscated or banned if they are used inappropriately.

If new policies and procedures are going to be put in place in schools I would expect the pupils themselves to be consulted
Kathleen Marshall
Children's commissioner

"It is accepted practice amongst adults that phones are switched off during meetings," she said.

"I think it's perfectly acceptable to have a very strict policy that phones are always switched off during class time."

She said there was no excuse for parents to insist on the right to contact their child on their mobile phone during the school day. In emergencies they should call the school, she added.

However, Kathleen Marshall, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, said pupils should be consulted on the issue.

"With mobile phones now an accepted part of life, there is a need to ensure that wherever they are used, whether that be schools, offices or public transport, it is done responsibly and with regard to the surrounding environment," she added.

"If new policies and procedures are going to be put in place in schools I would expect the pupils themselves to be consulted as they are much more likely to adhere to these rules if they have participated fully in their development."

Alleged attack

Lothian and Borders Police have charged a 15-year-old in connection with the alleged assault on the head teacher and a report has been sent to the Children's Panel.

It has emerged that the pupil had been excluded from school in the morning and had returned at lunchtime, when the alleged attack took place.

Scottish Borders Council has declined to comment directly on the incident due to the police inquiry.

However, Scottish Borders councillor Jock Houston, a former EIS regional representative, has called for a total ban on pupils having mobile phones.

"It has been argued children need them for emergency reasons but they can always get access to a phone at the school office if need be and their parents contacted that way.

"In light of what has happened here and incidents elsewhere I feel there should be a total ban on mobile phones at schools."




SEE ALSO
Pupil charged over teacher attack
04 Feb 07 |  South of Scotland
Leniency for sex video footballer
22 Jan 07 |  Tayside and Central
Pensioner 'happy slapping' attack
29 Aug 06 |  North East/N Isles

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific