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School charges parents £2 ransom to return confiscated phones

 

 

A Leicester school is charging parents £2 to return mobile phones confiscated from their children during class time.

South Wigston high school bans phones because it says the devices are a major facilitator for bullying and also a distraction to learning.

However, it has now been accused of holding phones to ransom, following the introduction of the charge.

Lawyers have also argued that the school could be breaking the law, reports Schools Week.

The electronic device policy of the school says mobiles can only be left in the school office at the start of the day by parent request, for emergency reasons.

One unnamed pupil at the school described the charge as a tax and a ransom. The £2 fee has also been challenged by lawyers.

One, Ramona Derbyshire, a partner at Thrings law firm, said schools could confiscate phones, but could not ‘impose a charge as a disciplinary process’.

She added that the school in question is ‘walking a thin line’ as a charitable contribution has to be voluntary and not part of a disciplinary process.

The South Wigton policy came in the same week as education secretary Damian Hinds said that he would have no trouble in banning phones from schools.

‘Headteachers make these decisions,’ he told a conference.

‘And as it happens, the great majority of them have made the decision either to ban mobile phones or restrict their use in some way, and I fully support them in doing that.

‘I don’t want kids using mobile phones when they’re in school, clearly.’

South Wigston says that any phone subsequently found will be confiscated, kept in the school safe and then returned to parents.

A school policy document adds that: ‘A £2 contribution to the school’s charity will be required for return.’

But although restricting use of the phones is legal, enforcing a charge to get them back may be a step too far, it has been argued.

The Department for Education told Schools Week that said parents can only be charged for items they bought from the school.

It said schools could not levy compulsory charges unless they were for optional activities or items.

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