Phone ban at Dearne school

Mexborough School deputy head Graham Waters.
Mexborough School deputy head Graham Waters.

Mexborough School students have been banned from using mobile phones after reported incidents of cyber bullying and use of sexually-explicit material.

The new rule was introduced after pupils were caught sending abusive messages to each other and one falsely claimed they had been sent a pornographic picture.

The entrance to the new Mexborough School building Picture: Marie Caley S2684MC

The entrance to the new Mexborough School building Picture: Marie Caley S2684MC

Around 1000 students are now prohibited from using their phones in school hours and are threatened with having them confiscated if caught texting or making calls.

Parents spoke of their concern this week that such incidents had taken place, while school bosses said they had no choice but to take the drastic measure.

In part of a letter to parents, deputy headteacher Graham Waters said: “We have had an increasing number of incidents where some students are abusing the use of mobile phones in school and this has caused some serious safeguarding issues.

“I am sure that you will realise that the majority of mobile phones now have easy access to the internet and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“As a school we find that increasingly students are using these sites to send inappropriate or abusive messages to other students, in other words using these sites to cyber bully others.”

He added action was taken after three incidents of mobile phone misuse had been reported this year.

“Whilst with these social networking sites messages can be traced, students now have access to ‘snapchat’. This enables pictures/messages to be sent and deleted within ten seconds and they can never be traced again.

“I am sure you will understand the risks this presents to all students in terms of receiving abusive/inappropriate pictures and messages. Another issue we have had with snapchat is that one of our students suffered from a malicious allegation that they had sent a pornographic picture using it.”

He explained some incidents had happened during school hours and they had “no choice but to ban the use of mobile phones at any time during the school day.”

Pupils aged 11 to 18 cannot have their phones out from when they arrive at school gates to when they leave after 2.45pm. This includes break and lunch times. Anyone caught will have their phones confiscated for the day. Parents wanting to contact their children urgently must ring reception and a message will be passed.

Parents said they were alarmed to hear about the incidents but welcomed the school’s decision.

Sean Rodgers, 45, of Lynwood Drive, whose two children attend the school, said: “As a parent I was concerned to hear what had happened but I welcome the school taking action.

“I think things like Facebook are the devils work when used in the wrong way. Children’s safety has to be paramount.”

Former school governor Sean Gibbons, 40, of Park Road, Mexborough, whose two children are pupils, said: “There were never use of mobiles in my day and if it poses a risk or is disrupting lessons then I’m in favour of them being banned.

“It’s a shame in this day that there are new outlets for bullying and we need to do anything we can to stamp it out.”

Mr Waters said: “Bullying can have a major impact on students and we need to do what we can to support our students against this. Unfortunately people do use the Internet and mobiles inappropriately and we need to ensure we take action.”

Emma Rodgers, school business manager, added: “It’s less a case that there has been a large number of incidents and more about tacking the issue early before situations develop.”

Headteacher Mirjam Buhler-Willey was not available for comment at the time of going to press.