A primary school has just banned mobile phones at pick-up time.

“Greet your child with a smile, not a mobile.”

That’s the sign parents at St Joseph’s school in North Yorkshire see when they arrive to pick up their kids.

Just in case that’s not clear enough, there’s a picture of an adult holding a phone with a big red line drawn through it. GET. OFF. YOUR. PHONE.

The sign outside St Joseph's Roman Catholic Primary School in Middlesbrough, UK. Image via ITV News.

The response from parents at the school has been mixed.

“I don’t think it’s their business, is it?” said one dad when he was interviewed by a reporter from ITV News.

But on Facebook, other parents have leapt to the defence of the school.

“My child attends this school and I totally agree with the signs, 100 per cent,” posted a mum. “They have been away from you for six hours. I personally want to know what sort of day they have had.”


“Your children come out of school wanting to talk about their day, while it’s still fresh in their minds, but some parents can’t be bothered to listen because they are too busy with their phones,” added another.

“I don’t agree with all the hassle the school is getting. THINK CHILDREN FIRST.”

Head teacher Elizabeth King says they’re just trying to get families talking at the end of the school day.

“The new signs have been received very positively with parents and carers recognising and supporting the school’s ambitions to provide the best education possible for their children,” she told the North Yorkshire Advertiser.

Yes, well. The parents who never have a phone in their hand at pick-up time anyway think it’s a great idea – plus, they get to be judgey.

The parents who sometimes have a phone in their hand, for work or whatever other reason, are likely to feel they’re under attack and get their backs up.

As the dad said, “I don’t think it’s their business, is it?”

Listen: Is it time to stop making the kids' lunches? (Post continues after audio.) 

Look, there are no doubt plenty of parents out there – and I guiltily include myself among them – who probably could cut back a bit on the screentime and have more face-to-face time with their kids.

But if schools really cared, they wouldn’t be shaming parents. They’d be helping them.

How about giving parents a list of good conversation starter questions to ask their kids after school? How about setting fun adult/kid projects for homework, instead of handing out worksheets?

Surely that would work better than a big hostile sign.