PUPILS have returned to school after the half term break to new rules over mobile phones.

Galashiels Academy has brought in a new rule which states that mobile phones should not be seen or heard within the school building.

The mobile phone ban aims to help improve pupils' mental health and well being, boost attainment in the classroom, and make the school a "mobile phone free building".

Before the February half term, pupils were not permitted to use their phones in class, however, the new rule extends the mobile phone use ban to any indoor space within the school - pupils can only use their phones during break and lunch times and only outside.

Sharing to the academy's Facebook page, Pauline Anderson - the school's acting headteacher - said: "The next few weeks are very busy, especially for our Senior students working on SQA assignments and preparing for SQA exams.

"Tomorrow [February 20] we introduce our new policy ‘Mobile phones should not be seen or heard in the school building.’"

In the last five months staff at the academy have issued 1,068 mobile phone de-merits to pupils.

By reducing screen time the school hopes to reduce cyberbullying and help children socialise with their peers.

The school also argues that by reducing pupils' access to smartphones in the school building can help them to improve their attention in the classroom, and therefore help improve their attainment.

Before the school break earlier this month, pupils, as well as their parents, guardians and carers, were asked about phone use in school.

The majority of pupils surveyed said they did not understand why the new phone rules were being introduced.

And when asked what they use their phones for while at school, the top three reasons for using a smart phone were contacting parents or carers, checking school timetables, and messaging friends.

Parents and carers, as well as those on the school's parent council, have backed the new rules.

The school has recognised that there will be a "transitional period" while pupils and staff work to "break long held habits".

Visual reminders to not use mobiles in the school building will be placed in corridors, canteens and other areas of the school.

Staff will also be giving polite reminders to pupils to keep their phones in their bags and switched off.