The Education Secretary has launched a push against bad behaviour in schools following a pandemic year which has “inevitably” affected pupils’ discipline.
Writing in a national newspaper, Mr Williamson said long periods in lockdown had impacted on children’s “discipline and order” and now that schools had returned it was imperative to ensure “out-of-control behaviour” did not destroy learning environments.
His comments come with the Department for Education set to announce details of its £10 million “behaviour hub” programme, which it says will be operating in time for the summer term.
Department officials have identified 22 “lead schools” with strong reputations for behaviour and discipline to assist and advise other schools struggling in that area.
Mr Williamson has made banning mobile phones in schools a key part of his plan, saying they not only distract from “exercise and good old-fashioned play” but also foment cyber bullying and the inappropriate use of social media.
“While technology has been invaluable keeping children learning during lockdowns and we support its use, it’s now time to put the screens away, especially mobile phones,” Mr Williamson wrote, stipulating he was not referring to the controlled use of laptops of tablets in class.
He added: “Maintaining good discipline is an absolute must in any classroom and is one of our key priorities. Out-of-control behaviour will also destroy the wholesome and happy environment that every school should have, leading to bullying, and turning playgrounds from a place of joy to a jungle.
“That’s why I am totally behind schools and colleges taking firm action to create a disciplined and calm environment, and putting in place a strong behaviour culture where students are taught how to behave well and are clear about what is expected of them.”