TEACHERS at a Greenock school say the implementation of a no phones policy has made a ‘remarkable’ difference to concentration levels in the space of a few months.

Cedars School in Ardgowan Square began a trial in January following an extensive consultation with pupils and parents.

Pupils at the private school are now not allowed to bring a mobile into classrooms with them.

Those who require one for purposes such as travelling to and from school can secure their device in a locker before classes begin and collect it at the end of the day.

The decision was taken to bring in a policy after the pandemic, with teachers noticing a marked difference in the number of pupils bringing a mobile phone to classes.

Headteacher Emma Rukin told the Tele: “After Covid, we’d gone from maybe half of pupils in the secondary having phones to nearly all of them.

“We did notice that it was as if there was a bit of deterioration in the amount of eye contact and conversation.”

Greenock Telegraph: Cedars SchoolCedars School (Image: George Munro)

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s recent Programme for International Student Assessment study showed that around a third of students admitted being distracted by digital devices.

Teachers at Cedars School considered various studies while considering ways in which they could tackle the problems caused by phones in classrooms.

Emma said: “The research indicated that it’s not actually about having your phone in front of you and interacting with it.

“If our phones are in the same room as us - even if it’s in a bag, a pocket or your desk drawer - your working memory capacity is significantly reduced.

“Teenagers live through their phones. They breathe through them.

“To expect them to be able to concentrate on a lesson whilst the thing that is the source of all life and all connections is in the room with them is really unfair.”

Just a few months into the trial, teachers say they have seen a considerable difference in pupils – who have also welcomed the change.

Greenock Telegraph:

During the consultation phase, the parents of 88 pupils were asked for their thoughts.

Only one family objected to the plans – with teachers then working with the parents to reach a resolution.

Biology teacher Dr Leah Martin, who supported the consultation effort, said: “One of the things I’ve noticed is it stops teachers looking for phones under desks.

“It actually makes the classroom experience much nicer.

“Almost every pupil who had a phone in their bag would be looking at it at some point during the less.

“You were always looking for them. It makes for a better relationship with the pupils.”

Emma added: “The pupils have not complained once.

“I suspect some of them are happier. I think for some of them once they got over that initial feeling on insecurity – which I can understand – actually it’s a really happy place to be.

“We’re really lucky because the school is so small.

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“I imagine management in other schools would love to do something like that but how you police it, I’m not sure.”

Pupils at Cedars School say they have found the policy to be beneficial to their learning.

Emma Crosby, 16, said: “I think we’ve developed more social skills because people are less distracted, which has been great.”

Ethan Jess, also 16, added: “When they first said they were going to implement the phone policy, I didn’t want it to happen.

“I go on my phone all the time so I thought I would struggle a lot, but it’s not been anywhere near as bad as I thought it would have been.”

Earlier this year, schools in England were given new guidance by the UK Government regarding phones in schools, with then education secretary Gillian Keegan saying the devices had ‘no place’ in classrooms.

The Scottish Government is expected to publish fresh guidance in the near future.