THE head of a school which caused a revolt among parents and pupils by banning mobile phones outright has relented.
Following an outcry over the banning of the phones at Consett Academy in County Durham, headteacher Kevin Reynolds now says students are permitted to carry them to and from school. They will be confiscated if they are produced on the premises, but returned to the students at the end of the school day.
Parents had set up a Facebook page following the ban which was introduced last month after the half-term break.
The group, called What a Waste, attracted more than 170 members who disagreed with the “heavy-handed” rules being imposed at Consett Academy.
Last week Mr Reynolds sent a letter to parents and carers of the 1,200 pupils at the Academy seeking to clarify the position over mobile phones.
He wrote: “If your child is seen using a mobile device (I add seen with one to this) it will be taken from them, turned off, put in a labelled bag, secured in a locked area and parents notified.”
But he added: “For safety reasons the mobile device can be collected from the year manager at the end of the academy day. I do understand why parents would want their son or daughter to have a mobile phone on them travelling to and from the academy.”
The climb-down was welcomed by parents.
Edwina Hall, from Bridgehill, whose 14 year-old son goes to the Blackfyne site on the academy, said: “Nobody objects to the pupils being made to switch their phones off inside school. That is only right.
“But it was the ban on taking them to and from school which stirred up a hornet’s nest. To be honest a lot of students had ignored the ban with their parents’ blessing, and just kept the phones out of sight.
“The terrible thunderstorm on Thursday, which began just as students were leaving the school, showed how important it was for kids to have mobiles to keep in touch with parents.
“It is surely better to teach pupils to use mobiles responsibly than to ban them altogether.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, urged schools to think twice before issuing a ban on mobile phones.
He did so after Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw said he may recommend banning mobile phones in schools as part of a crackdown on discipline.
Mr Reynolds had described the outright ban as common sense, to protect children from cyber-bullying.