It has been four years since La Gautrais Middle School, located in Plouasne, France banned the use of all cell phones. It seems like this might result in many unhappy students and teachers. However, the opposite is true; they are all pleased with the ban. It has not caused anyone any issues.
What the administration has observed is that the 290 students are showing more interest in interacting with other students. They are showing more empathy, and they have a desire to learn at the beginning of their lessons. The staff is also observing that their students are talking more at recess while others are more active.
Headteacher Yves Koziel noted that the ban on phones gives students some peace from social networks. He said that many of the students really appreciate this. Yves said that social networks could sometimes create conflict, sometimes bullying. He said, “We’re freeing them from that.” He went on to say that he is pleased to see the students return to “ordinary things.” He was referring to games, chatting, break time clubs, as well as specialized activities like dance and knitting.
One student, Anatole Desriac, 15, got his first cell phone. He said he approved of the ban. He stated that he prefers proper conversation when he is with his friends. He added that it is difficult when everyone is standing around with their phones, to listen to each other. However, on their long bus ride home, he said he and his friends like to listen to French rap on their phones.
A number of the students under 14 years old said their biggest concern when on the playground, was breaking their phone or getting them smashed, or dropping them in water. So, leaving them at home, or in the classroom, made them happy for the sake of safety.
Perhaps the school was the leader of banning phones at school. Many students in France have been banned from using their cell phones during school hours. A new law was recently passed prohibiting their use. This includes students in primary and middle schools up to the age of 15. They will need to either leave their phones at home or turn them off at school according to the new law.
The staff has discovered that banning cell phones has not been difficult. Generally, the students switch them off and place them in their backpacks. So far, there have been fewer than ten confiscations per year. Initially, the staff expressed anxiety over their role in enforcing the ban. Teachers and administrators say the ban has been relatively easy to implement.