Plan to ban mobile phones in English schools has been ditched by the Government

The UK government has abandoned a plan to ban mobile phones from schools in England

Gavin Williamson, former Education Secretary, pushed for a ban on mobiles in school in 2021, but the move has since been ditched.

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The Department for Education launched a consultation in summer 2021, with senior figures privately indicating that a ban would be introduced in 2022.

Why was the potential blanket ban announced?

Williamson said mobile phones in school were "not just distracting but they can have a damaging effect on a pupil's mental health and well-being."

However, this potential ban led to teaching unions criticising the move and branding it as a distraction from wider issues facing schools after the pandemic.

The current education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, has now stepped back from the blanket ban with revised guidance for headteachers, which will be consulted from 3 February.

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Guidance on improving discipline will be up to England's headteachers to decide whether phones can be used in classrooms.

In a statement ahead of the move, the department said the revised guidance would make clear that “heads are best placed to make decisions on whether mobile phones should be in classrooms, considering the needs of their pupils”.

What else has been announced?

In an attempt to stop pupils "falling through the cracks", children who are not in school will be listed on a new register.

Local authorities will also log where each child is being educated after the rise in children being home-schooled during the pandemic.

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Mr Zahawi said: "While the majority of children already learn in a calm and well-maintained classroom, and some learn at home with dedicated parents, there are areas across the country where high standards are not being met.

"As Education Secretary, it is my priority to make sure every child gets the start in life they deserve, which is why I'm announcing clearer guidance to help every school boost behaviour and new legislation to create the first local authority register for children not in school."

General secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), Paul Whiteman, called new guidance on behaviour "unhelpful" but welcomed the introduction of a register for children not in school.

He said: "We need to remember that in the vast majority of schools there are no major issues when it comes to behaviour and that schools already have strong systems in place for supporting good behaviour.

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"The Government' s current obsession with being seen to 'talk tough' on behaviour is frankly unhelpful.

"Instead, what the Government should be focusing on is making sure that vital support services are available to support schools and pupils when they need it.