Tories to demand mobile phone ban in Scottish classrooms

The Conservative Party wants the smartphone ban to be implemented in Scotland, alongside the rest of the country
The Conservative Party wants the smartphone ban to be implemented in Scotland, alongside the rest of the country - SOLSTOCK/E+

The Tories are to demand a ban on mobile phones in Scottish classrooms in a manifesto that also calls for the reversal of SNP tax rises.

In a Scottish manifesto to be unveiled by Rishi Sunak and Douglas Ross on Monday, the party will claim mobiles have become “disruptive” to lessons and are a factor in a rising tide of school violence, pledging to back head teachers who prohibit them.

The Tories will also say that an intermediate income tax rate – which sees Scots pay 21p in the pound on earning between £26,562 and £43,662 – should be reduced by 1p.

It is proposed that the measure, which would save workers up to £171 per year in tax, would be paid for by boosting the Scottish budget under the formula used to fund the devolved government and reducing the size of the civil service.

Douglas Ross, the Tory leader of Scotland, said: 'Mobile phones are disruptive to pupils' learning'
Douglas Ross, the Tory leader of Scotland, said: 'Mobile phones are disruptive to pupils' learning' - CHRISTINE ONGSIEK/AVALON

While a devolved issue, the Tories said they wanted a consistent policy on mobile phones throughout the UK, with the party also supporting a ban south of the border.

“There is increasing evidence that mobile phones are disruptive to pupils’ learning and are linked to shocking and violent incidents in our schools,” Mr Ross said.

“The SNP have dithered as violence has spiralled out of control on the school estate. They should support overwhelmed teachers and back our calls to allow them to impose this ban.

“We believe the time has come to support a ban on the use of mobile phones in Scotland’s schools. Our manifesto pledges to support any headteacher who wishes to take such action.”

‘Issues that matter to Scots’

Other key pledges to be included in the Scottish manifesto are recruiting 1,000 more GPs and police officers, improving rural trunk roads and increasing subject choice for school pupils.

Mr Ross claimed “these are the issues that matter to Scots” while the SNP had “focused relentlessly on independence.”

He said the cut in the intermediate income tax rate would be a “first step” towards a goal of ensuring Scottish workers paid no more tax than those in the rest of the UK.

He added: “The SNP tax hikes are stifling economic growth and putting Scotland at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the UK. This has to stop – and under the Scottish Conservatives, it will.”

‘Different perspectives’

John Swinney, the First Minister of Scotland, said the Government was looking “very carefully” at a potential ban on mobile phones in schools.

“There are a range of different perspectives on this question,” he said. “Some teachers believe that having phones available to young people assists the education process.

“Others believe it is very disruptive to classroom cohesion, and to the cohesion of schools.

“We are working very closely with the education system to make sure we have firm and clear guidance in place.”