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French TV crew films children at Reepham school where mobile phones are banned

A TV crew from France interviewed students at Reepham High School about its ban of mobile phones. With the crew are (L) Olivia Blezard and Jenny Garrod. Picture: Ian Burt

A TV crew from France interviewed students at Reepham High School about its ban of mobile phones. With the crew are (L) Olivia Blezard and Jenny Garrod. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

When a headteacher at a rural north Norfolk school took the brave decision to ban mobile phones in the classroom he never expected a French TV crew to be interviewing pupils soon afterwards.

A TV crew from France interviewed students at Reepham High School about its ban of mobile phones. Speaking is French teacher Melissa Teillet. Picture: Ian BurtA TV crew from France interviewed students at Reepham High School about its ban of mobile phones. Speaking is French teacher Melissa Teillet. Picture: Ian Burt

But the introduction of the new rule from the start of term at Reepham High School attracted the attention of a French TV channel based in London.

And it could become the blueprint for changes to schools on the other side of the English Channel.

France 2 TV, equivalent to BBC2 in Britain, heard about the ban when its British producer was in Norwich, and read about it in the EDP.

The channel’s bureau chief Loic de La Mornais said: “Schools in France are considering banning mobile phones. It’s a big debate and hopefully our film will soon be shown on French TV.”

Reepham pupils were formerly allowed to use phones at break and lunch times, but must now keep them in their bags all day. If one is found in the classroom, it is confiscated and parents must collect it.

Headteacher Tim Gibbs said the new rule was working very well.

He said: “We’ve had enormous support from parents, and students have got on with it straightaway. Pupils aged from 13 to 16 think they cannot live without their phones, but they can.”

French teacher Melissa Teillet also thinks it’s a very good idea.

She said: “Before, when pupils wanted to translate something from French into English, the temptation was always there to use their phones. It made them lazy.”

Fluent French speakers Isabella Morgan and Jane Chapple, both 16, are also fans. Jane said: “You don’t need your phone at school. I’m tending to speak more to friends at school now, rather than looking at the phone.”

Head girl Olivia Blezard, 15, added: “It used to be a comfort to have your phone, as we’re so reliant on them, but it’s not been as bad as expected.”

Headteachers across the county have previously warned the use of mobile phones at schools has become “prolific”, amid fears the technology is hindering learning, and prompting concerns over safeguarding, education and behaviour.

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