MOBILE phones are being confiscated from pupils if they are seen in use at a secondary school - and only the parents are allowed to collect them at the end of the day. 

The new rule, introduced at The Romsey School this term, has prompted criticism from parents who say the devices are vital as their children need them for more than just calling. 

One parent, who wanted to remain anonymous, said it was ‘unacceptable and unnecessary’ and that she had already been forced to take time off work to collect them. 

Previously, confiscated phones could be collected by pupils at the end of the day, but a new policy stipulates that they must be collected by parents.

The parent said: “If it’s a Friday they won’t give them back until 3pm Monday. If they don’t hand them in, they are put in exclusion. As students come from all over, they need their phones for apps to use online banking, to pay for public transport or food and to keep safe.” 

Hampshire Chronicle: The Romsey School The Romsey School (Image: Google Street View)

The policy comes as new guidance was released from government that says phones should be banned in schools to improve behaviour. 

The guidance from the Department for Education backs head teachers in banning mobile phone use throughout the school day, including at break times. 

It aims to tackle disruptive behaviour and online bullying while boosting attention during lessons - and says it will raise standards by increasing students’ focus and reducing distractions. 

The move will bring England in line with other countries that have already implemented a ban, including France, Italy and Portugal. 

It follows warnings from the United Nations on the risks of smartphones in schools and government data that found around a third (29 per cent) of secondary school pupils reported mobile phones being used when they were not supposed to in most, or all, lessons.   

However, the crackdown in Romsey has not gone down well. 

The parent said: “It is causing havoc with the school. A lot of disgruntled parents who have to give up work time to collect them. 

“It’s understood phones are a cause of disruption and to take the phone away for the day is understandable as long as the students can collect at the end of school. 

“Why not put all phones in a box at each lesson and collect them at the end? It’s unacceptable and unnecessary stress for all involved.”

A spokesman for the school, which is part of the Gateway Multi Academy Trust and is run by headteacher Annie Eagle, said the move was brought in to protect pupils’ mental health.

A statement said: “The Romsey School has high expectations of our pupils across all aspects of school life and our pupils’ mental health is at the heart of everything we do. 

“There is much evidence widely available which highlights that mobile phones can be distracting to learning and can have a very negative impact on pupils’ health and well-being. It is for this reason we have changed our processes. 

“All parents have regular opportunities for feedback and discussion with staff. They have also received school communications about any changes to these policies or processes and parents will therefore be aware of the recent updates.”

Speaking about the prospect of a nationwide ban in schools, Tom Bennett, school behaviour advisor, said: “This is a fantastic move forward for ensuring that students are able to work, learn and grow in a place free from the distracting influence of mobile phones. Schools that have already banned them report that students are safer, happier and able to focus far more than they were before - and it’s popular with them too.”