SCHOOLS have challenged the advice of a top politician and defended their decision not to ban mobile phones.

Last week, the school's minister, Nick Gibb, told The Times that schools should ban the use of smartphones, especially in the classroom, to get children to limit their screen time.

Although most schools in Oxfordshire are already applying a ban, some are rejecting the trend and are allowing the use of phones during breaks and even in the classroom to support education.

Among them are Rye St Antony at Headington, the Cooper School at Bicester and the Fitzharrys School at Abingdon, which have waived a general ban and in certain circumstances allow phones.

Sarah Ryan, Roger's principal, said: "Educating students to understand risks and promote safety are key elements of education.

"We are increasingly seeing students engage proactively in this debate and want to learn to use technology more responsibly and to discuss their own concerns about the impact of mobile phones on their relationships, work and health."

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This week, students from the integrated independent school attended Safer Internet Day and learned about the impact of telephone usage.

Ms. Ryan said, "Understand [these effects] is the key to understanding how to manage the technology and take control rather than let it control us.

"It's so important to help them learn to maintain a healthy balance, and while classrooms, corridors and other public spaces are not allowed to use phones, we allow students to have them with them at school and with them to work together to help you learn to use them well.

"Phones are a powerful reality in their lives for both positive and important purposes, and we must equip them for life-long use."

Fitzharry's policy also defends the use of a phone and states that "maturity" can be promoted by allowing students to make sensible decisions about their use.

She adds: "Mobile phones often provide valuable support for learning … A teacher can give permission to access the Internet for research purposes, take photos of ongoing work, capture ideas on the whiteboard, or record homework.

"Some schools prohibit mobile phones, but that does not mean that students do not bring them to school during the day." Fitzharry's disciplined approach encourages the responsible use of mobile phones and avoids distractions during study time. "

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Many Oxfordshire schools allow students to bring their phones to school, provided that they are off and out of sight and are not being used on the premises during the school day. In this case they will be temporarily confiscated.

The Cherwell School in Summertown allowed students to use their breaks during lunch, but changed that in 2017.

The new statement explained the change: "It is [now] It is virtually impossible to restrict students' access via the Internet at school … Students may be exposed to inappropriate, illegal or offensive material.

"There is also an increased likelihood that bullying can take place online during the school day."

The directive also mentions student welfare as a reason for the stricter rules, adding, "Some students simply spend too much time on their phones … Research has shown that young people who are overly hooked up to their cell phones are up to to score 20 percent worse scientifically. "

Last week, Oxford University researchers found that the time you stare at computer screens, video games, and smartphones did not significantly affect the well-being of a child.