CONCERNS regarding pupils being filmed, sharing inappropriate images and bullying have led to a group of parents calling for mobile phones to be banned at Dunbar Grammar School.

An open letter has been sent to headteacher Claire Slowther and staff calling for a change to the school’s mobile phone policy.

Dunbar Grammar School Council meets on Wednesday to look at the school’s phone policy.

The letter highlights the “negative impact of mobile phone use in school, and increasing evidence of the harm and negative effects on learning and development”.

It reads: “There is clear evidence that the ubiquitous use and presence of mobile phones in schools and classrooms leads to loss of learning due to disruption; reduced social interaction between pupils during break and lunch times; and increased incidents of mobile phone misuse.

“It is clear that mobile phones are also causing disruption during lessons, with students using their phones when they should not and some students refusing to hand over phones when they are instructed to do so.

“This is leading to lost learning for the majority of students who always do their best in lessons.”

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The letter is signed by seven parents, with concerns including:

  • Fear of students being filmed e.g. in the changing room, leading to girls wearing gym kit under their uniforms;
  • Inappropriate filming of staff without their consent;
  • Filming/photography of students without consent;
  • Use of social media platforms without consent;
  • Sharing inappropriate images;
  • Bullying and abuse;
  • Pressure to have a smartphone and sufficient data, reinforcing inequality issues particularly in the context of a cost-of-living crisis;
  • Videoing of arranged fights and sharing on social media.

The parents call for the school to “take an ambitious position and show leadership by removing ambiguity and simply no longer permitting the use of mobile phones during the school day”.

They said: “We acknowledge that there will be challenges to implementing this change, which is why we have spent time looking at schools who have done this successfully. There will always be some students who need a mobile phone for their journey to and from school but provisions can be made for this.”

Dunbar Grammar School Council, which includes parents, senior staff and pupils, meets from 7pm and anyone looking to attend is asked to email

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “The petition organisers did not engage with staff or the school’s young people and, as such, cannot fully claim to represent the views of those groups.

“The school’s own consultation process was open to the entire school community. Almost 800 responses were received.

“It is premature to be calling for any ‘ban’ before the consultation results have been shared within the school’s recognised and representative bodies. The parent council and school leadership team are happy to engage with parents on their concerns but this cannot be at the expense of due process when it comes to decision-making. It’s also appropriate that young people themselves have an opportunity to contribute to the debate.

“While we understand there are views on all sides of this debate, we are disappointed at this attempt to pre-empt the outcome of the consultation process before it has concluded.”