Netherlands extends ban on mobile phones to primary schools

The ban, which will be implemented through guidelines, has gained majority support from the council for primary schools.

Happy kids at elementary school

The outgoing education minister in the Netherlands, Mariëtte Paul, has announced plans to extend the ban on mobile phones in classrooms to cover primary and special schools. The aim is to address the negative impact that mobile phone use has on educational outcomes. Earlier this year, the education ministry revealed its intention to prohibit secondary school children from taking phones into class starting from January 1, as research has shown that their use can reduce average test scores by 1 to 1.5 points.

However, the ban will not be legally enforced. Instead, a set of guidelines developed through discussions between teachers, parents, and student representatives will be implemented from the beginning of the next school year. The council for primary schools, known as PO-raad, conducted a ballot of its members, resulting in a three-to-one majority in favor of extending the ban.

It is important to note that exceptions will be made for pupils who require their phones or tablets for medical purposes. Additionally, teachers will have the authority to allow the use of phones in class for educational activities such as interactive quizzes and lessons on digital literacy.

Why does it matter?

While no specific figures are available on the number of children in primary school who own a phone, anecdotal evidence suggests that most children have one by the time they reach Group 7, around the age of 10. Banning mobile phones in classrooms seems to be a good test of how to improve educational outcomes.