Damian Hinds today said he backs headteachers who decide to ban mobile phones from their classrooms.
The new Education Secretary said that he wanted to leave the education sector in no doubt that he opposes pupils taking the gadgets into the lessons.
But he said he will not follow in the footsteps ofand impose a law banning mobiles from classrooms as heads ‘know best how to run their schools’.
He made the comments at the launch of the Confederation of School Trusts at the British Library in London today.
Some headteachers have slapped bans on children taking their phones into lessons as they warn it is distracting them from their studies.
But some parents have hit out at the measure and say they want their children to have the devices with them as it means they can contact their offspring and know they are safe.
Damian Hinds (pictured in Downing Street in September) today said he backs headteachers who decide to ban mobile phones from their classrooms
Addressing headteachers in the room, Mr Hinds said that it is his ‘strategy is to trust you to get on with the job’.
He said: ‘Let me give you an example. Take mobile phone. We heard a couple of months ago how France would be banning mobile phones in schools.
‘Please be in no doubt what I think about mobile phones.
‘I firmly believe that kids in schools should not be on their phones. I strongly support schools that ban phones.’
But he added: ‘But when people asked me if I was going to follow the example of France and impose a national ban — I said no.
‘Because that’s autonomy in practice. Heads know best how to run their schools and achieve the objectives they want without any unintended consequences.
‘And meanwhile we have given teachers the powers to confiscate phones if necessary, and also to investigate cyber bullying that goes on beyond the school gates.’
His comments come amid continued concern that pupils get distracted by playing with their phones while they should be concentrating on studying.
While others have warned that pupils can be bullied online at their desks if they are allowed to take their phones into lessons.
Mr Hinds also used his speech to accuse Labour of ‘dangerous control freakery’ when it comes to their schools policy.
Labour announced at their party conference in Liverpool last month that they would abolish free schools and academies if they get into power.
Ofsted ‘to stop focusing on exams’
School inspections are to focus less on exam results and more on ‘how children learn’, according to proposals from Ofsted.
Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of schools, said there was too much pressure on schools to produce top grades at the expense of everything else.
Mrs Spielman said it had led to some schools simply ‘teaching to the test’ – rather than offering a ‘broad, rich and deep’ curriculum.
She said there would be a shift in focus towards how good the teaching is at schools, adding: ‘We know that focusing too narrowly on test and exam results can often leave little time or energy for hard thinking about the curriculum, and in fact can sometimes end up making a casualty of it.
‘Our new focus will change that, bringing the inspection conversation back to the substance of young people’s learning and treating teachers as experts in their field, not just data managers.’
A consultation on the proposals will be launched in January.
Damian Hinds said he will not follow in the footsteps of France and impose a law banning mobiles from classrooms as heads ‘know best how to run their schools’ (pictured, French President Emmanuel Macron today in Armenia)
Instead shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said she would bring schools back under council control and establish what she dubbed a ‘common rulebook’ to ensure schools stuck to more of the same teaching and rules.
But the Education Secretary lashed the policy in his speech and said that headteachers must be trusted to know what is right for their schools and students.
He said: ‘Labour saw the evidence. They had a choice between what is working for children and what left wing dogma says.
‘They have made their choice. For them, ideology comes before children’s education.’
He added, saying: ‘Angela Rayner may call it local democratic control.
‘I call it not trusting schools. Why do Labour want to put politicians in charge of schools?
‘It’s because they don’t trust headteachers.’