New mobile phone policy for island schools

There has been a long-running campaign to improve the school's sports facilitiesThere has been a long-running campaign to improve the school's sports facilities
There has been a long-running campaign to improve the school's sports facilities
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is set to consult on an authority-wide policy on the use of mobile phones and “personal communication. devices” in schools in the Western Isles.

Councillors on the authority’s Education, Sport and Children’s Services committee, backed the move when the committee met on Tuesday.

A report by Comhairle officers, presented to the meeting, said that there had been a “significant increase” in both the “availability and capability” of mobile phones and other digital devices and that there had been “increasing consideration” for the establishment of a policy to define their “responsible and permissible use”, with the matter receiving “increasing local and national attention”.

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The report said that the issue mainly affects secondary schools and “different local procedures to govern or restrict use” had been introduced in island schools.

Mobile phone usage in schoools is on the rise.Mobile phone usage in schoools is on the rise.
Mobile phone usage in schoools is on the rise.

However, the establishment of a single Comhairle policy would bring “consistency to such approaches” across all schools, the report concluded.

Representations had been received by the authority, the report confirmed, seeking not to control or restrict mobile phone use in school, with views about pupils needing to retain access to phones for “prompt contact from parents, personal safety, monitoring health issues or, increasingly, to contribute and support learning in class”.

Such considerations, the report stated, “can be integrated into consultation and the development of a policy”.

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But, the report adds, research into the use and impact of mobile phones and other digital devices in schools, “has increasingly evidenced potential negative effect on learning, engagement, behaviour and relationships as well as increasing risk and exposure to bullying, intimidation and harassment”.

“Research does also highlight the potential for devices to enhance learning and support digital inclusion as well as recognising duties upon educators to promote safe and responsible use of such technologies”, the report states. The development of a policy “will give the opportunity to review research and inform content’.”