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Spanish region bans mobile phones in school

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Photo of teenagers using mobile phones: Shutterstock
12:19 CET+01:00
Spain's Castile–La Mancha region has announced a total ban on the use of phones in schools in a bid to end "a daily battle" between teachers and students.

To date, individual schools in the region have been responsible for drawing up their own rules on the use of smartphones in classrooms.

Now, however, Castile–La Mancha is cracking down. On November 18th, the region rolled out a ban which means students are forbidden from using their phones in class except in special cases where they will be used as an educational tool. In such cases, prior permission must be sought from teachers and families.

Students who break the rules will suffer minor punishments including being deprived of a break, or staying behind after school.

The law has been brought in to end the "daily battle" between teachers and students, Félix Aparicio, the director of studies at Albacete's Bachiller Sabuco secondary school told regional daily La Tribuna de Albacete. 

Aparicio said that younger children generally did not bring their phones into class but that from the age of 13 or 14 onward, this was standard practice.

He stressed that this was a problem not just during class but also when it came to homework, and made special mention of the indiscriminate use of WhatsApp groups.

Around eight percent of the complaints received by teachers relate to the use of smartphones, according to Inmaculada Suárez of the teaching union Anpe, who highlighted the difficulty of integrating the use mobile of mobile phones into the classroom. 

"Mobile phones aren't necessary and students shouldn't use them in class or during break time," she told Spanish news site El Diario.

But some schools are taking a different approach.

"Previously we prohibited all mobile phones and other types of electronic devices. You can ban what you like but the reality is that students will bring (phones to class)," Antoni Aparici at Barcelona's Joaquim Pla i Ferreras school told El Diario.

"The ban also caused contradictions, because our centre is following a programme where students use tablets and computers in certain courses, so it didn't much sense to stop them carrying electronic devices," Aparici said.

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Now the school has put a system in place where students can ask teachers if they can use their phone for task like photographing blackboards containing key information. The system has been a success, according to staff. 

Critically, there has been less tension over the confiscation of phones, a situation which can sometimes lead to aggressive behaviour as students are reluctant to part with their devices.

Some 56 percent of Spanish school students have admitted to using their mobile phones in class despite bans, while 72 percent are against a blanket ban on such phones in schools, a study by the social media platform Tuenti revealed.

Currently, the Spanish regions of Murcia and Galicia are looking at legal bans on mobile phones in schools.  

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