9 Aug 2018

Restrictions on the Use of Mobile Phones

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope that you have enjoyed a relaxing summer break. I am looking forward to welcoming the students back to the new academic year next week. A reminder about the start of term arrangements is at the end of this letter.

I am writing to let you know about a trial that the Middle School (Y7-Y9) will be involved with this term. After a process of extensive consultation we have agreed that, from the first day of term, Middle school students will no longer be permitted to use their mobile phones during the school day, unless they have permission from a teacher to use it as part of a lesson. If students bring their phones to school, they must be secured in their lockers at the start of the day and must remain there throughout the school day. If teachers require students to use their phones in a lesson, they will be given advance warning to bring their phones. After this, phones must be returned to lockers at the next available break. Middle school students will not be permitted to use their phones during breaks or between lessons.

The reasons for this new trial are as follows:

  • There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that, while mobile phones have their many uses, there are also risks associated with the excessive use. We think it is important for students to have balance in their lives and so we want to limit “screen time” at breaks and between lessons. We think it is important that students make the most of the many extra-curricular activities on offer at school and use the time at school to build friendships face to face.
  • The age limit for most social media platforms is 13. We have found that many students of this age find it difficult to self regulate their use of social media and we feel that this policy will help to support them in limiting their use of social media to more reasonable levels. Unfortunately, students are not always able to use social media responsibly and our pastoral team spend a great deal of time dealing with friendship issues that arise from the use of social media during the school day. We would like our students to be able to thrive in a safe and happy environment and hope that this policy will help to promote that.

We are of course a 1-1 laptop school and we believe that equipping students with technology skills is vital in the 21st Century. We hope that the new restrictions on the use of mobile phones will encourage students to approach the use of technology in a more controlled and measured way. Students will, in addition, continue to be taught how to use technology and handle social media responsibly during their GTS (Global Thinking Skills) lessons and in their tutor time programme.

As part of this trial, we will also be introducing “technology free breaks” on Tuesdays and Thursdays for Middle School students. On these days during break time and lunchtime, students should not be using their laptops or any other devices. If students genuinely need to use their laptop to complete some Home Learning on these days then they will be permitted to do this in Room 237.

Finally, Middle school students will no longer be able to play computer games (gaming) in their tutor rooms at breaks. If students want to game during breaks then the only place they can do this will be in Room 237; this is a room which will have teacher supervision. The reason for this is so that we can monitor students and ensure that students are not gaming excessively. We recognize that gaming can be an enjoyable activity for students but, again, we believe that students require supervision to ensure that they have healthy, balanced lives.

Please be reminded that it is vital that all students bring a padlock with a key on the first day of school to ensure that their locker is always secure. It is the students’ responsibility to ensure that their belongings are secured and not left unattended.

As students will not have access to their mobile phones, if they need to urgently get in touch with family members during the school day they can use the phone in reception or come to the Middle School office. If you need to contact your child urgently, then please contact the school office on: 26991811.

As stated above, this trial will start at the very beginning of term. We will then evaluate the effectiveness of this initiative in due course and inform you of the outcomes.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Start of Term arrangements for Middle School students:

The first day for Y7 students is Monday 13th August. This is a full day induction from 8.15-3.20. Y7 have a second induction morning on Tuesday 14th August.

The first day for Y8 and Y9 is Tuesday 14th August which is a half day induction from 8.15-12.15. All students need to be in full school uniform. Timetabled lessons commence on Wednesday 15th August.

Kind regards,
Lucie Purves
Head of Middle School