Wednesday 13th March 2019
It has been brought to my attention that pupils at St Catherine’s particularly in Year 5 and 6 have been bringing their internet/camera enabled phones to school. Some have been handing them into the office in a zipped bag or pencil case some have been keeping them in their school bag in their classroom. Yesterday one of these phones rang out during a lesson in the classroom.
This has come as a shock to me as our Policy which was shared with you in 2016 clearly states that children are not permitted to bring internet enabled phones onto the premises. This includes the playground and school trips and PTA events.
I appreciate parents would like to check that children have made their way safely home if they are independent travellers which is why our policy advises parents to purchase a phone that does not have a camera and does not access the internet but can call out and text message. These phones must be brought directly to the school office to be stored before registration. They can then be collected from the office after their teacher has dismissed them from the playground.
In an age of technology I understand that children like to have their mobiles on them. However there have been far too many safeguarding incidents nationally and in this school in particular, involving inappropriate whatsapp messages and inappropriate photographs being uploaded onto social media without the child’s or parents consent. For us this is a huge safeguarding issue.
In my experience as a Headteacher, having a simple phone which does not access the internet not only prevents a lot of safeguarding incidents but also reduces any possibility of the children being a victim of theft or mugging. I have seen some of the mobiles today which in some cases are the latest model of an i phone which costs several hundreds of pounds.
Please ensure that your child does not bring their internet/camera enabled phone into school. If they do, I’m afraid the mobile will be confiscated. I appreciate that this may cause you an inconvenience tomorrow, however, it is my responsibility as Designated Safeguarding Officer for the school to act quickly and reinforce our policies which recently have been ignored.
The Pastoral Leader and the Computing Leader held an emergency safeguarding assembly today to reinforce this message with the children in Years 5 & 6. They are now very clear about what type of phone can be taken to the office in line with our policy.
Moving forward the staff and I would really appreciate your support in this particular matter so that every effort is made to keep our children safe at St Catherine’s.