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Banning the use of cellphones in primary and lower secondary schools
[anglais] Key policies - Jean-Michel Blanquer - 23/09/2019

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Banning the use of cellphones in primary and lower secondary schools aims at sensitizing students to a reasoned use of digital tools and fully enjoying the richness of the collective school environment.

  • From the start of the 2018 school year onwards, the use of mobile telephones is forbidden in primary and lower secondary schools.
  • Applicable immediately, the law of August 3, 2018 regarding regulation of the use of mobile telephones within primary and lower secondary schools aims at sensitizing students to the reasoned use of digital tools and to help them benefit fully from the richness of the collective school environment.

The new legal framework for the start of the 2018 school year

93 % of students aged 12-17 owned a mobile phone in 2016 (72 % in 2005) according to the "barometer of digital usage" established by the Electronic Communication and Postal Regulation Authority (ARCEP).
63 % of students aged 11-14 are members of at least one social network even though the legal age required for use is 13, according to a study from the National Committee on Informatics and Freedom (CNIL) and the Génération Numérique organization.

The use of mobile telephones can seriously impair students' capacity for listening and concentrating, which are necessary for learning. This use is also the cause of a large portion of the incivilities and disturbances that occur in schools.

Mobile phones can be the object of jealousy, extortion or theft between classmates. Furthermore, their use at school diminishes the quality of life of the school community, which is indispensable to the well-being of students. Finally, mobile phones are sometimes vectors of cyberbullying and can facilitate young people's access to violent images, and pornography in particular, via the Internet.

For all these reasons, at the start of school in 2018, the use of mobile phones and all other electronic communication devices is forbidden within primary and lower secondary schools.

Perimeter of the ban

The use of mobile phones and electronic devices (electronic tablet or smart watch, for example) is banned in all primary and lower secondary schools.

This law also enables the administrative council of upper secondary schools to prohibit the use of these devices to their own internal regulations.

This ban applies during school hours and also during before-and after-school care or extracurricular activities. It is also effective during all school outings occurring away from the school.

Exceptions within the law

Students with disabilities or incapacitating health problems will be able to use medical equipment associated with communication devices (for example, blood-sugar monitoring devices diabetic children).

Concerning the conditional bans, the law allows for foreseeable circumstances, most notably involving pedagogical uses, and locations in which the internal regulations expressly allow the use of mobile telephones by students. These are cumulative conditions, i.e. the internal regulations must specify both permissible circumstances and locations.

Application of the ban in schools

Freedom retained by schools

On school grounds, students' mobile phones must be turned off and put away.

Each establishment must determine its own practical measures for enforcing the law.

It could be interesting to test a system of personal cubbies in which students could leave their telephones during the day and get them back before leaving school.

Examples from abroad
In Norway, certain schools have put in place a system for regulating mobile telephones. Students place their telephones in a "phone hotel" in the morning when they arrive at school and get them back as they leave.
In the United Kingdom, students at several upper secondary schools can bring their mobile phones to school as long as they leave them in a locker reserved for this purpose.
In the United States, a number of schools require students to keep their telephones in a Yondr case. This pouch locks automatically upon entry into an area where mobile phones are forbidden.

Modifying internal regulations

Starting in September, in partnership with members of the educational community, and according to the different modalities defined by the school principal or head teacher, the internal regulations of each public school will be subject to revision.

In primary schools, the head teacher will adjust the internal regulations and submit the changes to a vote by the school council. In lower secondary schools, internal regulations fall within the exclusive competence of the administrative council, after consultation with the permanent committee.

From now on, internal regulations in schools will contain :

  • a ban on mobile phones within schools, following the law of August 3, 2018
  • the charter on the use of information and communication technologies
  • emergency situations that can cause a student to ask an adult for permission to use his or her telephone in a place defined by the internal regulations. For boarding schools, locations and times for authorized telephone use will be explicitly mentioned.

The Charter of the Rules of Civility for Lower Secondary Students, which contains the main elements of the internal regulations in simplified form, must also contain these new rules.

Responses to rule breaking

An adapted, individual and graduated response must be given to all cases of the use of a mobile telephone in school. Modalities for this are to be defined by internal regulations.

This response may include punishment (supplementary homework, detention etc.), the confiscation of the device which is now authorized by law, or, in the most serious cases, a disciplinary sanction as laid out by article R. 511-13 of the Educational Code.

Rate of smartphone ownership by age



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Last updated : nov. 8, 2019

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