Should mobile phones be banned in Bedford's schools?

Councillors are not likely to be trying to impose a ban on mobile phones being used in Bedford’s schools if a meeting of the borough’s executive committee is anything to go by.

A suggestion that the issue is something for the council to look at was rejected by the mayor and the portfolio holder for education.

Child with a mobile phone

Child with a mobile phone

Cllr Louise Jackson, who holds the council’s public health portfolio, said: “I’m frankly astonished that children have mobile phones in schools. Isn’t it something that we should be thinking about?”

But Cllr Henry Vann, the education portfolio holder, said phones could be useful in schools. “I would say it is something for the professional judgement of headteachers, considering the age of the pupils.

“I would be wary of any local authority or national government issuing a restriction on teachers that was clear or even guidance that goes beyond the professional expertise of the teachers and headteachers.”

Mayor Dave Hodgson, a former university lecturer, said the professionals should make the judgement call. “We pay them to train and they should use their judgement.”

Cllr Shan Hunt, who holds the children’s social care portfolio, added that she remembered a similar argument about using calculators and mental arithmetic. “They use both,” she said.

The mobile phones issue went no further and the executive approved a report into the education system in the borough. They will be examining a one per cent rise in school absences after Cllr Jackson spotted the statistic on the background papers.