Ex-Ofsted chief Michael Wilshaw demands ban on phones in all schools

The government should pass a law to ban mobile phones from all schools in England, the former chief inspector of schools has said.

Sir Michael Wilshaw told the Festival of Education at Wellington College today that ministers should follow the lead of the French government and ban the devices altogether during the school day.

From this September, pupils in France will be prevented from using mobile phones anywhere on school grounds.  This includes at break and lunchtimes.

In England, headteachers currently have the power to ban or restrict the use of mobile phones in schools, but the government cannot compel them to do so.

Wilshaw, who said “any sensible head” would ban mobile phones, wants the government to go further.

“It’s interesting that president Macron is now bringing in legislation in France to ban mobile phones from state schools in France. We should do the same here,” he said.

“It’s far too distracting for children when they bring mobile phones in. Texting, sexting, all the rest of it takes place. Mobile phones go off in the classroom, disrupting lessons. Ban them.”

His comments follow an intervention from the culture secretary, Matthew Hancock, who said on Tuesday that more schools should ban phones.

Amanda Spielman, Wilshaw’s successor at Ofsted, is expected to back Hancock’s call during her speech this afternoon, saying she is “yet to be convinced of the educational benefits of all day access to Snapchat” and the place of mobile phones in the classroom is “dubious is best”.