New Pupil Mobile Phone Policy Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the new pupil mobile phone policy?

A: Pupils may still bring mobile phones to school, but with the exception of Sixth Form, are not allowed use them at all on the school site between 8.30am and 3.45pm, unless directed otherwise by a member of staff. Phones must not be visible and must be switched off between those times. Sixth Form phone use is restricted to within the Sixth Form Centre.

The new pupil mobile phone policy will take effect from Thursday 1 February.

Q: Why have you introduced this policy?
A: We have had concerns about mobile phone usage in school for some time and the increasingly negative impact phones can have on the school and wider community. For instance, dependency on mobile phones can affect manners and social interaction; inappropriate use can lead to unkindness; excessive screen time can impact on sleep and health and peer pressure to have the latest device and interact on social media platforms can be a burden. All of which can have a detrimental effect on school life and pupils’ learning and general social development.

Q: Were parents consulted over this?

A: Yes, we have consulted parents via a questionnaire over our plans, and the vast majority of parents have been supportive over a change to the mobile phone policy. We have also discussed the changes with staff, the School Council and members of the Prefect Body. This is part of an overall Digital Citizenship Programme which we have been developing to help all members of the Princethorpe community, including staff, become better ‘digital citizens’, learning how to use digital technology and media in a safe, responsible and effective way.

Q: What happens if I need to get an urgent message to my son/daughter?
A: Urgent messages for pupils should be directed via the school reception on 01926 634200; they have access to all pupil timetables and can ensure that messages reach pupils. If the pupil then needs to phone a parent back, permission will be granted by a member of staff.

Please do not call the office with non-urgent messages.

Q: What constitutes an urgent message?

A: An urgent message is one that cannot wait until after the school day to be communicated, for instance, changes to after school collection, e.g the need to take the bus instead of being collected, a family emergency or important change of plans, for instance medical appointments.

Q: What will happen if my son/daughter is caught using their mobile phone when they shouldn’t be?

A: After an initial short period of grace, sanctions will apply and will escalate, for a first offence a record will be made in the homework diary, the mobile phone will be temporarily confiscated and stored at the student hub for collection at the end of the day and parents will be emailed.

A second offence will result in a Friday lunchtime detention. Third and subsequent offences will result in a call home from the Head of House and the pupil will be prohibited from bringing a device into school for six weeks.

Q: Will the same rules apply on school trips?

A: Mobile phone usage will vary depending on the nature of the trip. For some trips, mobile phones will be completely banned, but the default position will be 8.30am to 3.45pm. Trip leaders will have discretion to allow use if and when it is appropriate. They will also have the flexibility to collect in and return mobile phones at certain times during the day and night.

Q: My child has previously been given permission to use his/her mobile phone to record homework tasks and for reminders to help with his/her organisation, will the rules apply to him/her?
A: We recognise that some children rely on their phones to help them with their organisation, and there will be some flexibility offered by negotiation depending on the individual needs of specific pupils. If you think this applies to your son/daughter please contact their tutor in the first instance.

Q: My child relies on their mobile phone and finds lunchtime and breaks difficult, I am worried about how they will cope without their phone.

A: We know some children will find this difficult and to that end we have already put more support in place for lunchtime including use of the sports hall and designated areas where pupils can get involved in more social activities such as card and board games and watch a film together. We will be publicising and introducing more activities over time.

Q: What will happen in extended day?

A: For pupils in extended day, normal class rules will apply with the exception that pupils may keep their phone on silent.

Q: I would like more help with managing my child’s screen time what can I do?

A: We are in the process of issuing a very helpful magazine, Digital Parenting, to all parents over the course of this term at parents’ evenings. We are running ‘DQ’ sessions at the Academic Review Meetings for Year 7 and 8 on Monday 29 January and all parents are invited to an Internet Safety Talk by an independent expert, Paul Hay, in the Clarkson Theatre on Thursday 1 February at 7.00pm, which we would urge you to attend.

Q: Are there any other tips you can give me for screen time management at home?

A: Some basic principles to use as a guide are as follows:

  • Do set and enforce boundaries and rules for access to the internet, mobile phones and screen time; we advise that there should be a device ‘switch-off’ time about an hour before bedtime and that no devices are kept in children’s rooms overnight.
  • Talk to friends and family about how they manage their children's digital lives.
  • When you're talking about bullying, sex and relationships and other issues with your child, don't forget to include the online aspects.
  • Try out the technologies your child enjoys - download some of their music and have a go at the games they like.
  • Think about how you guide your family in the non-digital world and how you can do the same in the digital world.
  • Make digital issues part of everyday conversation - talking about subjects like cyberbullying, sexting, copyright infringement and your child’s online reputation.
  • Monitor your child’s social media usage, their internet usage and the relationship they have with their phones and other digital devices.
  • Seek further support if you are concerned.