PARENTS of students at one of the first schools in the region to ban mobile phones from the premises have mixed reactions.
Consett Academy, which currently operates on split sites at Blackfyne and Moorside in the town, began a complete ban on students taking phones into school this week.
While some parents have supported the ban, others are less sure.
Stephen Robinson, a Durham county councillor whose son Karl, 14, is a pupil at the academy, said: “I fully support the academy’s stance on this. I believe mobile phones can be a distraction in schools. So long as pupils can contact parents in an emergency I see nothing wrong with an outright ban.”
But Kerry Penrose, from Blackhill, Consett, whose children Toby and Jasmin attend the Academy, called the ban “somewhat extreme.”
“Jasmin is 12 and will be travelling by bus to the academy site at Moorside from September.
“I would feel happier if she had her mobile phone with her in case of an emergency, or if she had forgotten something such as her PE kit, for example,” she said. “If she missed the bus home I would want to know so I could collect her.
“I fully agree that any students using mobile phones or letting them go off in lessons should have them confiscated.
“I can see the school’s point of view. They can be disruptive.
“But I can also see how they can be useful and provide protection to children in an emergency.”
Academy principal Kevin Reynolds, who described the ban as a “commonsense decision” told parents in a newsletter: “You may have read in the Press countless stories of cyber-bullying using electronic mobile devices. This kind of behaviour is highly destructive and very difficult to stop, both in and out of school.
“Very recently, Sir Michael Wilshaw (head of Ofsted) added that bullying via phones and the internet could be ‘disruptive and pernicious’ and he treated the menace as seriously as a fight in the playground.
“As a parent myself I take safeguarding very seriously; you need to know that when you child leaves home in the morning they are going to be safe and supported at school. Therefore, after much discussion with staff, students and parents, I have taken the decision to ban all mobile devices anywhere in the Academy from Monday, June 11.”
But Mrs Penrose added: “Cyber bullies can use their mobile phones or Facebook away from school and if they are that way inclined are far more likely to so out of school hours.”
Luke Roberts, spokesman for the Anti-bullying Alliance, said he did not believe an outright ban on mobile phones in schools would stop bullying.
“We believe it is the responsibility of schools to educate pupils to use modern technology properly, and to teach them the impact of bullying, not only cyber bullying but all forms,” he said. “We don’t believe that banning mobiles from schools will stop the problem.”