A ban on mobile phones in schools in England has moved a step closer to happening after government ministers published guidance on the topic.

The government said the move was part of a plan to "minimise disruption and improve behaviour in classrooms".

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan told BBC Breakfast that the guidance aimed to offer "consistency to reset the social norm that there is no place for mobile phones in our schools all the way through the school day".

She said there was currently a mixed picture on policy, with some schools allowing the use of mobiles during break times and others having an outright ban, BBC News reports.

How would a ban on mobile phones in English schools actually work?

The guidance from the government includes a few examples of how to create a phone-free environment during the school day.

This includes a total ban on phones on school premises or rules requiring that phones be handed in at the start of the day.

Additionally, it says schools could allow pupils to keep possession of their phones but "only on the strict condition that they are never used, seen, or heard" during the day.

Alongside that, headteachers are reminded that they are allowed to search pupils for items banned under school rules and that they have legal protection from being sued over loss or damage to confiscated items.

The guidance states that school leaders should "develop and implement a policy... which reflects their school's individual contexts and needs".

Criticism over mobile phone guidance for non-issue

General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders union Geoff Barton said he didn't expect the new guidance on mobile phones to have any discernible effect.

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He told BBC Breakfast the government should focus on "things that matter - funding, special needs, the need for us to be able to stop crumbling schools... all of those things are the big issues for parents rather than something about mobile phones in schools yet again."

The guidance for mobile phones is non-statutory, meaning that there is no legal power to enforce it.

However, Ms Keegan has said she "would consider what more needed to be done" if the guidance didn't work, which could mean legislation could be created for it.