Welwyn Garden City school’s strict new phone rules ‘unreasonable’?

PUBLISHED: 15:32 03 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:10 03 October 2018

Stanborough School headteacher Merry John. Picture: Stanborough School.

Stanborough School headteacher Merry John. Picture: Stanborough School.

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A parent has criticised a Welwyn Garden City school after its new headteacher bought in rules that have seen children’s phones taken off them for an entire weekend.

Stanborough School welcomed Merry John as its new headteacher following the retirement of Peter Brown, but her new rules are causing a stir among parents.

Dermot Pottshall, whose son is in Year 7, has vented his frustration after his boy’s phone was confiscated for an entire weekend.

Mr Pottshall insisted that his son’s phone went off “innocently” in class on a Friday as he had forgotten to put it on silent but it was immediately taken off him.

The youngster, who has social and emotional needs, relies on his phone so his father can track him arriving to and from school safely while cycling in.

Stanborough School. Picture: Danny LooStanborough School. Picture: Danny Loo

Due to the boy’s phone being confiscated on a Friday it meant that he could not be reunited with it until the Monday because the new rule states that they will be taken for 24 hours.

Mr Pottshall said he finds it “unreasonable” for the school to remove the phone for 24 hours and that he had to pay for his son to get a taxi home and then to school on the Monday.

Mr Pottshall told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “I think this may need looking into and to get parents’ views.

“I understand it’s her way of safeguarding not having phones in school, but by keeping the phone I can’t safeguard my son.”

Dermot Pottshall. Picture: Supplied.Dermot Pottshall. Picture: Supplied.

In a letter addressed to parents, Mrs John she explained the rule by stating the devices “can cause disruption during lessons and can distract students from their learning”.

Mrs John introduced the “zero tolerance policy on mobile phones” by announcing that phones are to be switched off and kept out of sight during the school day, including break and lunch time.

The strict rules mean that if a child is caught using a phone it will be confiscated for 24 hours and will need to be collected by a parent. If the phone is taken on a Friday it will need to be collected on the Monday.

A number of parents, whose children walk home in the winter months, raised concerns and Mrs John addressed them by asking parents to make sure they “reinforce the school’s expectation” to their children in a bid to reduce pupils using their phones at school.

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