Teachers ‘tactically’ ignore mobile phone use in classroom to avoid confrontation

A Scottish Government study found teachers think “zero tolerance” policies towards mobile phones have become increasingly difficult to enforce because handsets are now so widespread. In some cases, they even choose to ignore children using the devices to send text messages during class because confronting pupils causes more disruption than “tactically ignoring” them. This is from the Telegraph…

The study into pupil behaviour reported that 37 per cent of secondary teachers and 54 per cent of support staff reported that at least twice a day they catch youngsters using their phones during lessons.

Around one in seven teachers said they have to deal with children using the devices to abuse other pupils or staff at least once a week. Girls in particular log onto social networking sites to make “spiteful comments or spread malicious gossip”.

The 81-page report concluded that pupil behaviour had generally improved since the last study was conducted three years ago, with mobile phone use being the prominent exception.

However, 10 per cent of support staff still reported seeing pupils racially abuse their classmates at least once a week, while 24 per cent said they had recently witnessed children lashing out violently.

In addition, five per cent said they had seen secondary pupils under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the past week.

The Educational Institute of Scotland, the country’s largest teaching union, said the study highlighted the “continuing problem of persistent, low-level indiscipline in our schools”.

Larry Flanagan, its general secretary, said: “This unacceptable behaviour by a small number of pupils continues to blight the working lives of teachers, and damage the educational experience for the vast majority of pupils.”

The report surveyed nearly 5,000 staff, including 572 head teachers. Primary teachers reported increased mobile phone ownership among their pupils but said it had not yet reached a scale where it was a problem.

But their colleagues in secondary schools said ownership of handsets and particularly ‘smartphones’ like the iPhone, which allow internet access, is “ever more widespread”.

Pupils using the devices to send text messages, play games and update social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter have become an “unwelcome distractive influence”, the report said.

However, many teachers fell that “confronting a pupil who is surreptitiously looking at their phone under a desk or in a bag or jacket can cause more problems than tactically ignoring it.”

More at: Teachers ‘tactically’ ignore mobile phone use in classroom

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