Sunderland school seizes pupils’ mobile phones in war on disruption

Woman in schoolgirl uniform looking at cell phone
Woman in schoolgirl uniform looking at cell phone
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A DAD has hit out after school bosses confiscated his son’s mobile phone – and kept it for four days.

Paul Tweddle says his 15-year-old son, Tony, is one of a number of youngsters who had their devices taken from them under a new policy introduced at Sunderland’s Sandhill View School.

Paul Tweddle is unhappy about the way Sandhill School has dealt with his son when he had a mobile phone in class.

Paul Tweddle is unhappy about the way Sandhill School has dealt with his son when he had a mobile phone in class.

And, while he appreciates the phones can cause problems, he says the school has no right to keep them.

Dad-of-five Paul, of Falkland Road, said Tony’s phone was taken from him on Monday and staff said he could only get it back today. They also refused to return it to Paul when he went to the school yesterday to ask for it.

Paul, who is chairman of a Wearside children’s charity, Kidsmatta, said: “I accept them confiscating phones if the children are using them, but what I won’t accept is them keeping them for a number of days. They should be given back at the end of the day.

“These phones are a safety net for children, we live in a frightening and evil society. How dare they put my child and other people’s children at risk.”

He said many parents work and rely on mobiles to make sure their children are safe where they are supposed to be after school.

Steve Banks, joint acting headteacher at the Grindon Lane school, said: “Mobile phones and other portable devices such as iPods and MP3 players may not be seen or heard within school boundaries.

“If a phone is seen or heard, it will be confiscated by the member of staff. All confiscated phones are given to one of the school’s assistant headteachers and are returned at that teacher’s office every Thursday between 3pm and 4pm.

“Pupils may of course use their mobiles and carry them, switched on, for safety and other purposes on their way to and from school.”

He said the decision was made in the light of many issues with mobile phones, including persistent interruptions to lessons, repeated incidents of cyber bullying, poor pupil concentration and inappropriate contacts made on phones during school hours.

The acting head said: “We have been absolutely delighted with the strong support we have received from the vast majority of our parents and pupils. We are already seeing results as calmness and concentration in lessons have improved noticeably.”

However, Paul, whose youngest daughter, Trinity, 12, is also a pupil at Sandhill, says he is raising the issue with both the police and Department of Education.

Claude Knights, director of national child protection charity, Kidscape, said: “The question of mobile phones in schools is always a difficult one. I think the cardinal rule should be they are switched off during lessons. However, there are safety issues and I think keeping the phones for four days is going to be disputed by parents.”

Twitter: @sunechoschools