How to review your mobile phone policy

Find out how to review your school's mobile phone policy with confidence, including what questions to ask to help make sure it's robust. Use our model policy to see what good looks like, and see examples from other schools.

Last reviewed on 31 October 2022See updates
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 38442
Contents
  1. Key facts
  2. Key points to look out for
  3. 3 key questions to challenge this policy
  4. Download our model policy
  5. Examples from schools
19 February 2024: the DfE has published new non-statutory guidance on the use of mobile phones in schools. We're working on updating this article and model policy to reflect the guidance. Select 'save for later' at the top of this article, and we'll let you know when it's been updated.

Key facts

  • This policy is non-statutory, but early years providers must cover the use of mobile phones and cameras in their child protection policy
  • You can delegate the approval of this policy to an individual or committee
  • The headteacher and senior leadership team (SLT) will write and be responsible for the implementation of this policy

Key points to look out for

The rules for different groups within your school

A good policy will cover what's expected from staff and pupils, and ideally, parents and visitors too. It'll also explain the rationale behind those rules, including reference to safeguarding requirements, data protection and behaviour.

The sanctions for both staff and pupils breaking these rules should also be clearly explained.

Searching, examining and erasing phone content

If your policy sets out circumstances where staff will examine the content of pupils' phones, the procedure must be compliant with the Department for Education (DfE)'s latest guidance on searching, screening and confiscation at school.

It should also specify which members of staff have been authorised by the headteacher to carry out searches.

Loss, theft, damage and storage

It's best for your school's policy to include a disclaimer to say you accept no responsibility for damaged, lost or stolen phones, including when confiscated by staff.

A good policy will also outline:

  • What measures pupils are expected to take to keep phones safe if they're allowed them in school
  • How the school will store confiscated phones until they can be collected
  • Staff members' responsibilities for data protection when using personal or work phones

3 key questions to challenge this policy

1. Have there been any difficulties in implementing this policy?

You'll want to know:

  • That any rules around pupils' use of mobile phones in school are practical and enforceable
    • For example, it's unlikely that teachers would be able to monitor the use of specific apps or functions
  • If the sanctions your school leaders have included in the policy are effective
  • Whether staff workload or efficiency has been affected by rules on personal or work phone use 

2. How do you make sure everyone who needs to know about the policy can access and understand it?

As this policy covers expectations for different groups in your community, you'll want to know that they're all getting appropriate information about it. Your senior leader should be able to tell you how your school communicates the policy to:

  • Pupils 
    • This could include a code of conduct for pupils, as well as regular reminders in assemblies 
    • You'll want to know that information for pupils is easy for them to understand and act on, meaning it might be produced separately from the main policy and without jargon or references to statutory guidance
  • Parents
    • Your school might use information on the school website, permission forms, and explanations in school newsletters
  • Visitors or contractors
    • Information for visitors might be displayed in reception, or produced as a handout given to them when they sign in

3. What factors did you take into account when deciding whether pupils are allowed to bring or use phones?

You'll want to hear an answer that references your whole-school approach to behaviour.

Your senior leaders should also be able to show that they considered pupils' accessibility needs, and that they've taken your school's context into account. For example, your school might allow mobile phones if you have high numbers of children walking to school.

Download our model policy

This model document, from our sister service The Key, is not meant as a guide for writing or updating your school's policy, since that's your school leaders' job. Instead, use it to give you a sense of what a good policy looks like.

It's been approved by Forbes Solicitors and is designed for your school leaders to adapt to suit your school’s context. 

Model policy mobile phones 2022

For more model policies, visit our policy bank.

If your school is writing its own policy, or reviewing an existing one, and you just want to know what the policy should cover, use this checklist from The Key to help you:

KeyDoc: mobile phone policy checklist 2022

Examples from schools

Primary schools

Secondary schools

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