UK schoolboy using smartphone
A pupil uses his mobile phone for research during an English lesson at the Ridings Federation Winterbourne International Academy, Winterbourne, Bristol. An advisor to the UK's education secretary says the devices should be banned from all schools.Matt Cardy/ Getty Images

Children should be banned from having mobile phones in school because they cannot resist checking them, said the government adviser to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. Tom Bennett said mobile phones were an "enormous distraction" for pupils and the devices harm children's education.

Schools should instantly confiscate phones without any warnings or second chances, and parents should be made to collect the devices at the school in person, says Bennett. He accused teachers who did not ban smartphones of being oblivious to the disruptive nature of the devices, especially with the advent of Twitter and Facebook.

"Would you like your child to have a phone, a television, a game and a camera on their desk while working? No teacher would say yes to that," he said to the Times. "People who argue for these things are often technology zealots. There are certainly some classroom uses for phones, such as taking a picture of notes, but that's a small minority of lessons."

Smartphone ban

A number of UK schools already have bans on smartphones on their premises, including Bishop Challoner Girls' School in east London and The King's School, an independent cathedral school in Gloucester.

The headmaster of The King's School, Alistair Macnaughton, said, "We insist that pupils' smartphones are stowed away in lockers and switched off during the school day. If you allow the free use of phones during break times and the like direct interaction between pupils suffers. Any pupil who whips out their phone is likely to have it confiscated."

Headteachers who have banned smartphones claim that pupil's results and behaviour improved dramatically, with a number of state schools taking a hardline stance on the issue.

Results at The Ebbsfleet Academy in Kent rose this year with 53% of students achieving five good GCSEs, compared to 27% two years ago when the school first banned smartphones. Jon Coles, chief executive of United Learnings, which oversees over 50 schools, said: "My view at the moment is that the costs of trying to have mobile phones in use in school are much greater than opportunities."