Nikolay Kalinin slams Gavin Williamson’s war on mobile phones in schools
Away from pursuing the passage of the blatantly stupid Higher Education Bill, Gavin Williamson has decided to wage war on mobile phones in schools, saying that they are “not just distracting, but when misused or overused, they can have a damaging effect on a pupil’s mental health and wellbeing.” Coupled with the Tory majority, the proposal will most certainly become law.
Admittedly, there is some ground to his arguments – yes, I too cannot believe I said that – as apps such as TikTok and Instagram are not only distracting, but also could be used for cyberbullying and sexual harassment, as Ofsted has highlighted.
However, this legislation is both useless and is some cases even harmful; for starters, schools already have restrictions regarding mobile phone use; some for example require students to switch devices off before class or put them into a box, and some can ban their usage outright. I’m not usually a supporter of libertarianism, but policies like this do make sense because they are flexible.
Portable telephone can also be used for beneficial purposes; the CEO of Mumsnet for example recently wrote an article criticising Gavin’s proposal and revealing that one of her friend’s sons who has special needs uses his phone to record verbal instructions and take photos of the board.
There are also apps such as Evernote which allow students to organise their notes and therefore increase their chances of memorising knowledge. For many students therefore, the phone is not just a tool for entertainment, it’s also a tool for education.
If Gavin Williamson truly cares about the wellbeing of children, perhaps he should instead focus on increasing catch-up spending for students – which is only £50 per head here, while the Netherlands provides £2,500 per head – and stop trying to indoctrinate children through the endorsement of such claptrap as the One Britain, One Nation campaign.
The catch-up situation is in particular important because technology is not to blame for the decline of children’s education; rather it’s the lack of financial support they and their schools receive.