Schools to be required to consult with parents and students on use of smartphones

A union spokesperson has said most schools already have rules on smartphones

Schools to be required to consult with parents and students on use of smartphones

Picture by: Jens Kalaene/DPA/PA Images

Schools will have to consult with parents and students on the use of smartphones 'immediately', the Education Minister has announced.

A circular will be issued to all schools shortly, asking them to gather the views of parents, students and teachers to get their views on smartphone use in schools.

It comes as part of the the Government's work to introduce a Parent and Student Charter Bill.

If enacted, the legislation will require every school to consult with parents and pupils on key issues such as school costs, complaint procedures, and school policies in areas such as admission and school performance.

Richard Bruton says phone use will be a "requiring consultation" under the bill.

Schools will be asked to look at areas such as appropriate use of smart devices, whether they can be used for things such as photos or videos, and whether there are any age restrictions in place.

They'll also have to consider whether smartphones can be used during breaks or on school grounds outside of class time.

Once the consultation is completed, schools will be encouraged to update their policies. 

Speaking ahead of his appearance at the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) conference today, Minister Bruton said he is prioritising the enactment of the Parent and Student Charter legislation.

He argued: “The use of smart phones and tablet devices by our young people is an area that has increasingly caused concern.

"New technologies are fundamentally transforming the world we live in. These changes offer fantastic opportunities for our young people but also pose potential risks, which we as a government must respond to."

The Education Minister added: "Today’s announcement, that schools will consult with parents on the use of smart phones in their schools will ensure that parents, students and schools have a shared understanding of  the smart phone use policy their school has in place.”

A spokesperson for the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI), however, said most schools already have rules on smartphones - and suggested a blanket ban wouldn’t work.