Education & Family

NASUWT teaching union attacks school phone powers

Mobile phone
Image caption Schools have developed different policies on pupils using mobile phones

Plans to allow teachers in England to search pupils for mobile phones and examine the phones' content have been called "reckless" by a teaching union.

The measures in the new Education Bill are designed to combat cyber-bullying.

But the NASUWT says it will create conflict between teachers and pupils and their parents.

The government insists the measures help assert the authority of teachers and will allow them to deal with problems in schools more effectively.

Schools have developed different policies on pupils using mobile phones.

Many teachers have found themselves challenged by students and parents when they try to confiscate them.

'Disproportionate powers'

The Education Bill for England will give the teachers a legal right to search pupils and take their phones - and also look at and delete any messages and pictures they deem necessary.

In April 2010 the NASUWT called for tighter controls on the use of mobile phones in schools after a teacher was cleared of the attempted murder of a pupil.

But NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said the proposed powers were disproportionate and reckless, and will put teachers into more conflict with parents and pupils.

She said: "The extra powers in the bill to search and confiscate and dispose of electronic equipment and data are disproportionate powers that teachers don't really want, and actually could cause more conflict and more problems for schools rather than actually tackling discipline.

"In many respects they are reckless and they are putting teachers into confrontation with parents and with children and young people."

The proposed powers have so far received cross-party support and are due to be introduced by the autumn.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said it would send a "strong message" that a teacher's authority must be respected.

"Inappropriate images and messages on mobile phones are often used to bully and harass both pupils and staff," he said.

"The government believes that it is essential we do what we can to protect everyone from this unacceptable behaviour."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites