Page 7 - Independent Schools Magazine
P. 7

‘Phone Fast’
to become
regular event
Benenden School, Kent, has announced that its Phone Fast will become a regular occurrence, following success of last month’s three-day trial (previewed in the last issue of ISM, still available online at issues/2017-march/march-magazine.html#p=8)
From a Sunday night until a Wednesday lunchtime, pupils lived without their mobile phones and social media was blocked on the School network for the duration. The initiative - developed in partnership with Sixth Formers
– was aimed at helping girls to reduce their reliance on digital technology. This is an issue facing all teenagers and all schools, but Benenden felt that it was in a position, particularly because it is a boarding environment, to discover what bene ts there may be to young people going phone-free for a few days.
The feedback from pupils to the Phone Fast has been so positive that the School will now be
looking to maintain momentum by repeating the initiative. Headmistress Samantha Price, who was one of several staff to also go without their phone during the Phone Fast, said: “The response from the girls has been tremendous. The message from them has been clear – they haven’t struggled to
adjust at all, and have actually enjoyed the freedom that being without their phones has brought. “The girls have been playing games with their friends, chatting with one another and enjoying the magni cent grounds we are lucky to have here. In short, they have been having fun – instead
of constantly seeking af rmation through social media ‘likes’.
“The intention of the Phone Fast was to show girls here at Benenden – and teenagers everywhere – that time away from your phone can
be a good thing. The feedback from our pupils has been incredibly positive, so much so that we
will now be making Phone Fasts
a regular occurrence here at Benenden.
“All of us in modern society rely too heavily on phones and digital communications and the girls have shown us that breaking that habit can be enormously bene cial.
I would encourage everyone – parents, teachers and young people – to give up their phones for a few
days, just to see what a difference it may make.”
The Phone Fast was developed
in partnership with a group of
Sixth Formers, who asked senior management and their boarding staff how they could encourage pupils to reduce, and manage more effectively, their mobile phone use. Staff were also invited to take part if they wished.
Victoria Molloy, Benenden’s
Head Girl, said: “I think a lot of the girls found life without their phones much easier than they
had expected, and everyone has been saying to me that they have really quite enjoyed not having the constant pressure of checking their phones in the evening.”
The issue of teenagers’ reliance on social media has frequently been in the media in recent months:
The Education and Health select committees announced a joint inquiry into the role that schools play in helping to prevent young people from developing mental
health issues – a concern across schools of all types in the country and beyond.
This was followed by a report from the Children’s Commissioner in which she warned that social media companies were not doing enough to ensure children understood what they might do with their pictures, their words and their personal information.
Then, in her  rst major announcement of the calendar year, the Prime Minister unveiled plans to transform mental health services for young people.
Benenden School already has strict rules around girls’ use of mobiles. Until girls reach Year 11, they
hand their phones in at night and no phones are allowed in School during the day. Sixth Formers have the privilege of having their phones during the day as long as they
are not seen in lessons without permission.
Chamber music festival
TV presenter Katie Derham adjudicated at the  nal of the Pro Corda National Chamber Music Festival held at Brighton College, Sussex, in its state-of-the-art Sarah Abraham Recital Hall, which was opened by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour at the end of 2015.
The festival is an annual celebration of chamber music-making in schools. Hundreds of children throughout the country compete over several months of preliminary and semi- nal rounds and the lucky  nalists are amongst
the most talented musicians in the UK. The day was  lled with outstanding performances as some of the country’s top musicians made a bid to win the coveted title of “chamber champions”.
Three groups from the host school had won places into the  nal and the Brighton College cello quartet was handed chamber champion status. This is the second consecutive year the group has won the title.
In her adjudication, Katie said: “I wanted attack, rhythm, colour and excitement, and I got it, the team really nailed it.”
The school had double cause to celebrate as it was handed the festival’s highest honour, the special trophy for “outstanding contribution to chamber music playing”.
Brighton College head of strings Eleanor Whipple added: “It has been a privilege to coach the Brighton College groups and I could not be more proud of their success. We are very fortunate to have so many talented musicians studying at Brighton College and I am delighted for the pupils that all their hard work has been rewarded in such a prestigious prize. It was an honour to host the event in our beautiful recital hall and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to such an exceptional standard of playing throughout the day from all the  nalists.”
Independent Schools Magazine 7

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