Henley Life October 2018 - page 29

EDUCATION
It is a bare fact that most people in the UK
own or use a mobile phone, 95% of 16-24
year olds certainly do, and an increasing
number under that age group.
It is now a daily soundbite in parents’ lives:
“I cannot get them off the phone.”
This is not a reflection on parenting
techniques, but an addiction, which is
supported by increasing amounts of
research.
When local headmaster Gregg Davies was
faced by the stark reality of this addiction,
among his pupils, he bit the bullet and
enforced a total ban on the use of mobile
phones during the school day.
Unsurprisingly this has garnered national
attention, and other schools are following
suit.
Henley Life
spoke to Gregg at Shiplake
College, an independent day and boarding
school for boys aged 11 to 18, and girls
aged 16-18.
“Five years ago I brought phones into the
classroom – they are a brilliant tool and really
handy in the classroom for most good
teachers,” said Gregg.
“That moment changed when I walked
around at lunchtime to the common rooms
and I just saw very few people talking to each
other, and most communiciating on their
phone. No one talking to each other – it was
deadly.”
Another incident involved a girl on her
phone during mealtime. She would not hand
it over to Gregg, the headmaster, to be
confiscated and risked suspension from the
school, rather than relinquish the device.
At this point Gregg realised the addictive
nature of a mobile phone, and the school
began to investigate its impact on distraction
in the classroom, and also the overall effect on
teenage mental health, including its
detrimental effect on sleep.
Using a blue screen (tablet, phone, laptop)
one to three hours before going to sleep has
the equivalent effect on circadian rhythm as
drinking a double espresso.
Parents were supportive when Gregg
discussed a ban with the school community.
The obvious response from the pupils
against implementing a ban was ‘just
educate us on how to use them wisely.’
This was easier said than done – Shiplake
College could not find a way to educate the
student body without the ban.
“I literally had no idea how I was going to
do that education because some research
said 50 per cent of people under 25 are
addicted to their phones,” said Gregg who,
along with the support if his staff, made the
students go ‘cold turkey’.
Shiplake College Mobile Phone Policy,
which has been running for two years, states
that pupils may bring their phones into
college, but not have them on them, or use
them, between 8am and 5.45pm, unless they
are in a position of responsibility in the sixth
form.
And the punishment is real and enforced, on
a sliding scale of infraction of the rules but
ultimately includes confiscation and
detentions.
In terms of organisation, research and
schoolwork, each pupil uses a laptop of some
kind, that will not bypass the Shiplake
firewall.
“It has been painful because, for example,
one of our pupils got detention 14 times in
the first year. Eventually he got it and said he
could survive,” said Gregg. “ And we are
educating them that they
can
survive
without it for eight hours a day.”
So what has been achieved by planning and
implementing a difficult ban on mobile
phones?
“Concentration, focus in the classroom,
without a shadow of a doubt, freedom, and
now the dining hall is jammed at lunchtime
because they are all talking to each other, “
said Gregg who adds that he is sure that self-
esteem among his pupils has risen by not
being addicted to sites such as Snapchat and
Instagram which have documented negative
effects on young people’s mental health.
The Shiplake College Sixth Form Open
Morning is on Saturday October 6 at
9.15am, visit
Aiming high at
The Henley College
With more than 60 high-achieving A
Level and vocational diploma courses
to choose from, there are many
opportunities for students to find their
place at The Henley College.
They welcome students frommore
than 100 schools across
Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and
Oxfordshire into their diverse and
exciting college community.
At The Henley College, they aim to
empower learners to be independent,
confident, questioning and innovative
learners.
They celebrate and encourage the
enquiring mind and the enthusiasm to
embrace challenge and rigour.
Recognised as Leaders in Learning,
they aim for academic excellence
throughout all their teaching
programmes.
Their students are encouraged to
develop resilience, have ambition and
to aim high. They create a learning
environment that motivates everyone
to participate and achieve his or her
very best.
For further information on courses and
to apply online, please visit the website:
Mobile
phone
ban
HENLEY
life
| OCTOBER 2018
29
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