Restriction on mobile devices in schools

Wednesday 8th January 2020

One of the UK’s most famous boarding schools is urging schools to follow its example and introduce a ban the use of mobile phones during the school day.

Principal of Gordonstoun Lisa Kerr said,

“One of the immediate effects of our ban on mobile phones was an increase in noise levels, which we see as a good thing. Children are holding conversations, sharing jokes, and catching up with each other face to face, not via social media. They are developing great social skills.

“Schools need to help children achieve more than great exam results. They need to have the ability to interact with each other, to be confident in themselves, develop meaningful friendships and able to strike up a conversation with someone they don’t know.”

Ms Kerr’s comments are in response to those of the President of the Girls’ School Association, Jane Prescott, who said mobile phones were being ‘demonised’. Last month, the headteacher of Michaela Community School in London, Katharine Birbalsingh, said the government should ban the use of phones in schools as they pose a threat comparable to alcohol and cigarettes. Many schools have reported improved exam results following mobile phone bans.

Ms Kerr added,

“This is an important issue so I am delighted it is getting more attention, and I am pleased that TV presenter Davina McCall seems to agree with our policy. We’d be delighted to invite her to come and visit us to see our mobile phone ban in operation and to discuss how we might facilitate wider discussion around this topic.

“Technology has an important role to play in the classroom but it has to be controlled. Teenage brains aren’t sufficiently developed to exercise the necessary self-control so the adults in their lives need to set boundaries. Just as you wouldn’t leave out bowls of sweets and expect children to eat sensibly, we need to help our students to control technology rather than allowing technology to control them.

“Some of our parents make considerable sacrifices to send their children here because they are worried about the negative effect of mobile phones. They know that, in our school, that pressure has been removed and their child will be having real, not virtual, adventures. It is time for all schools to help pupils develop their full potential through the simple step of a mobile phone ban.”

Gordonstoun implemented a mobile phone ban in 2017. Children are not allowed to use mobile devices at all during the school day (from breakfast until the end of lessons and activities) unless they are directed to do so by a teacher. Any pupil seen using a mobile phone without permission will have their phone immediately confiscated. Special arrangements are made for children who need their phone for legitimate reasons, for example to contact a parent in a different time zone.

Instead, the focus is on developing skills for life including confidence, resilience and teamwork through a broad range of activities which include sport, drama, music and volunteering in the local community. There have been no complaints from parents about the ban since the policy was introduced.


For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Eleanor Bradford:

About Gordonstoun:

Gordonstoun is an independent boarding school which was established in Moray in 1934 by Dr Kurt Hahn, a Jewish exile who fled Nazi Germany. He founded the school with the ideal of developing better world citizens equipped to contribute to society. Dr Kurt Hahn was the driving force behind the Outward Bound Movement and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Gordonstoun has been a pioneer of character education which, as well as academic subjects, including outdoor education, athletics, projects and service to the community. Three generations of British royalty have been educated at Gordonstoun, including the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. Approximately one third of the pupils at the co-educational boarding school receive financial help in order to attend and earlier this year HRH the Duke of Edinburgh lent his name to a foundation to provide life-changing bursaries for the school.