Eton’s ban on mobile phones is Luddite, say angry teachers
ETON COLLEGE is facing a backlash from teachers after experimenting with a ban on students from using mobile phones in the classroom.
Simon Henderson, head master at the £40,000-a-year school, wrote to parents at the start of the academic year to announce the ban, which he said would be introduced as a trial.
But the move left some of its teachers “spitting” with anger, with one senior master criticising it as “Luddite” and “Amish”.
Joe Francis, an English teacher at the school, said the trial ban caused some consternation among masters who see mobile phones as a useful teaching aid.
“There are some teachers who are absolutely spitting about it,” Mr Francis told The Daily Telegraph.
“They tend to be the more techie teachers, maths and science people who think it is a bit Luddite and antiprogress. There will be people, older people particularly and humanities teachers, who applaud it. I sympathise with [them] but we have to get across this divide.”
Earlier this week, Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, said he supports any head teacher who chooses to ban mobile phones, saying that they get in the way of education. But Mr Francis, who is developing a new kind of education model that will embrace the use of technology, said that mobile phones are an invaluable classroom resource.
“You have an instant dictionary, calculator, encyclopedia … you have an amazing resource there,” he said.
Schools that seek to ban phones risk being seen as out of touch and “fuddy duddy” by youngsters, he added.
The ban is one of a number of new initiatives being trialled by Eton, which has set up a working group to consider boys’ use of mobile phones in school. The school already confiscates phones from teenagers overnight, which Mr Henderson says is an attempt to prevent the “24/7” social media culture.
In a letter sent to parents last month, Mr Henderson explained that the school intends to develop a strategy that “recognises the benefits of mobile technologies and educates boys in using these responsibly”, but which also “protects boys from the downsides of over-use and from the dangers of mobile phone addiction”.
A number of other schools, including Brighton College and Wimbledon High School, in south-west London, have also imposed limits on mobile phone use in an effort to wean students off their “addiction” to technology.