|Mobile phones have become a common classroom feature.|
Photo: John Lewis
by Javier Espinoza, Education Editor, The Telegraph, 29 August 2015
Mobile phones should be banned in secondary schools in an effort to raise standards, the chief inspector of schools has said.
Sir Michael Wilshaw called for more comprehensives to implement a“grammar school ethos” and also take the lead of independent schools where pupils stand when teachers enter a classroom.
He praised head teachers who are "battlers and bruisers" and run a "tight ship" where chewing gum and swearing are also banned from the classroom.
Speaking ahead of the official start of the new school term, Sir Michael told The Daily Telegraph he believes the country is starting to see a "sea change" in terms of state schools catching up with their private counterparts.
The best heads are those with "very strong characters … who understand the power of headship", he said, and good leaders are critical for improving schools. Sir Michael added: "We need battlers and bruisers in our schools, who are not prepared to put up with nonsense from children."”
He said schools such as Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, east London, where he was a founding headmaster, run "very tight ships, with a very positive ethos: they don't allow youngsters to bring mobile phones in, they don't allow youngsters to chew, they insist that the children treat each other well, treat staff well, and it's a very disciplined environment".
Sir Michael added: "Any head teacher worth his or her salt can stand up at assembly and say 'I am not going to have children chewing gum. I am not going to have children bringing mobile phones in. I'm not having children swear. I'm not having children answer back in class.' "
More than 90 per cent of teenagers have mobile phones, but a recent study by the London School of Economicsclaimed schools where they were banned saw test scores rise by an average of 6 per cent.
There is currently no government policy about mobile phone use in England, as schools have to set restrictions themselves. Many already have bans.
Sir Michael also said more state schools should be led by a "grammar school ethos".
He said: "I want to see a grammar school ethos in comprehensive schools. And now that we've got academies and free schools, it's an opportunity to say 'this is an all-ability school, but we have a very grammar school ethos here.'
"Why should it be the norm in an independent school for the children to stand up when the head teacher enters? Why should that be a peculiar reserve of the independent sector?
"It should not be, and we can do it in the comprehensive sector with the right leadership, with the right leaders who know what to do."
However, he said it wasn't the role of a teacher to "entertain" children in every lesson and that pupils should be expected to engage in hard work.
He said: "When you teach children quadratic equations, or ask them to learn the times table, that's not going to be fun and games.
"It demands attention and hard work and respect for the staff. Believe you me, as somebody who's watched a number of lessons on a wet Friday afternoon with maths teachers teaching quadratic equations, they have to have order in the classroom for children to learn.
"And in my school, the school I ran, It didn't matter who was in front of the children, I expected them to be treated with respect and with courtesy."
As the new academic year commences, he said Ofsted inspectors will be making a big push to make sure strong leadership is a constant feature.
He said: "From this September our inspectors will spend a lot more time looking at school culture. They will spend more time at the gates of the school to see what happens when children come in, they will be spending a lot more time at the end of the school day at the gates of the school to see what happens when children leave the school, are they leaving in an orderly fashion?"
He has this final warning to offer teachers: "We won't be flexible if we see disorder in the school."