Ysgol Aberconwy has taken the decision to make the school a phone-free space from September 1st to support children’s well-being and improve teaching and learning. During the course of this year, the school has held a number of engagement events with parents to discuss this issue, and they have surveyed staff, spoken to the student council and researched policy and opinion from a number of other schools, locally and nationally.
In a letter to parents, the school recognized that phones have a huge part to play in life in the modern world, and that they also know that learning, mental-health and social behaviour improve drastically when students are fully engaged with their teachers and classmates.
They will become the first school in Wales to work with a company called Yondr to implement a system that is already used in over 1,000 schools across 21 countries to facilitate an engaged learning environment.
The Yondr Program utilises a simple, secure pouch that stores a phone. Every student will secure their phone in a personally assigned Yondr pouch when they arrive at school each day at the start of the new term. Students will maintain possession of their phones during the day but will not use them until their pouches are opened at the end of the school day or if a teacher identifies the need to use a phone as a learning tool during specific lessons.
Yondr recently surveyed over 900 school partners to measure the effects of creating phone-free educational environments. These schools achieved notable progress in multiple areas:
● 65% of schools saw an improvement in academic performance
● 74% of schools saw an improvement in student behaviour
● 83% of schools saw an improvement in student engagement in the classroom
Headteacher Ian Gerrard said that he was delighted to be introducing this system in the school to the benefit of all members of the school community. He said that parents and students will still be able to communicate with each other in an emergency, and that provision could be made for vulnerable students or those who need to access apps for medical needs. He said, “we know that there is significant evidence that accessing social media through regular access to a mobile device has a negative impact on children’s mental health. For example, research shows us that teens who spend 6 to 9 hours a week on social media are 47% more likely to say they are unhappy than those who use social media less, and that in 36 out of 37 countries loneliness at school has increased since 2012 and has roughly doubled in Europe”.