PUPILS in Helensburgh’s schools are banned from using mobile phones within school buildings, it has emerged.

Although many local authorities have no policy on the issue, politicians are calling for a review of 2013 Scottish Government guidance on the use of phones in classrooms.

The Scottish Conservatives claim a blanket ban could improve test scores and reduce inequality.

The party wants head teachers to be given the power to decide whether mobiles’ use in schools should be banned.

But Argyll and Bute Council is ahead of the game courtesy of a blanket policy across the council area which prevents pupils using their mobiles within school buildings – unless a staff member says otherwise, and then only in the event of an emergency.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “Pupils are not allowed to use mobile phones within school buildings.

“They have to be switched off as soon as the young person enters the building and may only be switched on when leaving.

“The only exception to this would be in an emergency with the approval of a member of school staff.”

Argyll and Bute Council’s guidance on the issue acknowledges that a policy which prohibits children from taking mobile phones to school “would be regarded as unreasonable” for health and safety reasons.

But the policy – which applies to primary and secondary schools – states that it is “essential” that mobile phone use “does not impede teaching, learning and good order in classrooms”.

Helensburgh Conservative councillor Gary Mulvaney said: “In the modern world, phones are a fact of life, but in my view, no class should be disrupted by any pupils’ phones.

“There is also some evidence that suggests that the lowest achievers are the ones whom suffer most from excessive phone use.

“But ultimately this is a matter for individual headteachers to decide upon.”

The Conservatives have called for a national ban following a 2015 study by the London School of Economics which found that schools which banned mobile phones saw an increase in test scores – with improvements particularly among lower achievers.

The party’s spokeswoman for childcare and early years, Michelle Ballantyne MSP, said: “We are all becoming more and more reliant on smartphones and we know parents see them as valuable to ensure they can keep in contact with their children before and after school.

“But we do need to get the balance right.

“The evidence suggests that excessive smartphone use in schools can reduce educational attainment, particularly among low-achievers.

“At the same time, we know that online bullying is a growing problem in school.

“This may be a cost-free way to help boost standards in classrooms all over Scotland, giving teachers the support they need to deliver the high quality education we all want for pupils.”

Tim Kinvig, a member of the parent council at Arrochar Primary, said: “I think the ban is a good thing. Children in this day and age need to have a mobile for emergencies but they should not be using it during school time.

“They can be too easily distracted during classes by texting their mates across the room when they should be concentrating on their work.”

“I would almost go so far as to say mobile signals should be jammed in all school buildings.”

In fact many of Argyll and Bute’s new school buildings were constructed with technology in place which jams mobile phone reception within the premises.

Gillian Simpson, the chair of Hermitage Primary School’s parent council, said: “It’s not really an issue that’s been raised with our parent council at all.

“Speaking purely as a parent I recognise it’s a hugely difficult issue. I would certainly prefer if pupils didn’t have access to mobile phones during school times, but I recognise it’s unrealistic to expect young people not to have them.

“I also think there is value in teaching children about how information is used and how not all information is equal.

“It’s a very difficult issue and one which I think is best handled by teachers and professional educators.”