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School’s ‘social media detox’ as pupils told to put phones in lockers

The Scotsman logo The Scotsman 16/07/2019

Pupils at Scotland’s newest secondary school will be forced to lock their phones away until home time.

a group of people looking at a phone © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

The students will get free £300 iPads for their studies at Bertha Park High, which opens in Perth next month.

But the hi-tech school is enforcing a “social media detox” and says there will be no exceptions.

Head teacher Stuart Clyde has ordered that all pupils’ phones must be stored away in lockers from the start of the school day until the final bell.

“This is not negotiable,” parents have been told.

The school hopes the move will encourage more face-to-face interaction with pupils during intervals and lunch times, while cutting down on “unhealthy screen time”.

Details of the policy were released as developers put the final touches to the £32.5 million school building.

Bertha Park, which earlier this year announced a partnership with US tech giant Microsoft, will open its doors in just over a month.

All pupils will get their own iPad to help with lessons and homework. Perth and Kinross Council will be in control of the apps installed on the devices. In a message to parents, a school spokesman said: “Some schools encourage pupils to bring phones with them to school as they can be utilised for learning.

“However, with a school iPad and access to the internet, there is no need for our pupils’ phones to be used in this way.”

The spokesman said the phones will be locked away until 3:40pm each day.

“There is significant support among parents and teachers for a social media detox,” he said. The spokesman added that phone calls and texts home from young people “experiencing challenges” in school can be unnecessarily alarming for parents. Arrangements will be made for children to contact home via the school office and vice versa. The state-of-the-art school will open after the summer holidays, with a catchment area extending beyond the 3,000 homes being built at the adjacent £1 billion Bertha Park construction project.

The secondary half of the building will also be attended by pupils moving up from Auchtergaven, Methven, Pitcairn, Forgandenny, Logiealmond, Dunbarney, Ruthvenfield and Oudenarde primaries. Glenamond College in Perthshire announced in March that it would introduce a ban on mobiles. A similar rule was earlier introduced at Kilgraston in Bridge of Earn.

However, Morrison’s Academy in Crieff actively encourages pupils to use their phones. Bosses say allowing pupils to access smart technology encourages curiosity and critical thinking.

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