King’s former school bans phones in class and limits use overnight

Gordonstoun has banned pupils from having mobile phones in the classroom (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)
Gordonstoun has banned pupils from having mobile phones in the classroom (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)

Students at the King’s former school will no longer be able to have mobile phones in the classroom and will be required to hand them over to staff overnight.

Gordonstoun School, near Elgin in Moray, has instructed students to leave phones in their boarding houses during the school day.

They will also be required to hand them to school staff overnight.

The action was taken following a consultation with parents, staff and students due to concerns over the “addictive” nature of mobile phones.

Sixth formers are exempt from the policy, but school principal Lisa Kerr warned if they “get it wrong” their phones will also be taken away.

Ms Kerr said: “This is about the responsible use of technology. We do digital learning in spades, with laptops in every lesson, online guest lecturers, and AI a key learning tool.

“But there must be different rules for the use of mobile devices, as the phone apps are literally designed to be addictive, to create regular dopamine mini-hits.

“Asking children to have a phone in their pocket but not respond when it buzzes with a notification is like putting a bowl of M&Ms on their desk and asking them not to take one, even when no-one is looking.

“We only need to ask ourselves how hard we find it not to pick up our own phone to understand how much harder it will be for a teenager whose pre-frontal cortex brain has not fully developed sufficient self-regulation.

“Following a wide-ranging consultation on the impact of the mobile phone policy, we decided last week to go a step further. Other than for our sixth-formers, phones now need to be left in boarding houses during the school day and handed in overnight. And if older pupils are getting it wrong, we take their phones away too.”

Gordonstoun first introduced a policy limiting the use of mobile phones during the school day in 2017, which the school claims has led to improved exam results, concentration and social interaction with other students.

Ms Kerr added: “Earlier this week I had barely finished asking a group of students to ‘tell me honestly, are you using your phone less than before?’ when they chimed in with ‘yes, definitely, we love it’. They feel free, can focus on their work and sleep better.

“We want children to engage in real, not virtual relationships; we want them to hear the birdsong around them rather than music through their Airpods and we want them to be safe from algorithms which promote hate and harm.”