Minister for Education Richard Bruton has published a circular requiring all schools to consult parents, teachers and students on the use of smart phones and tablet devices in schools.

Mr Bruton has also reiterated his commitment that the use of smart phones in schools will be included as an item requiring consultation under the Education Bill 2016, which requires every school to consult with parents and students on key issues and publish and operate a Parent and Student Charter in line with national statutory guidelines.

The circular states that schools will be required to consult parents and students on the appropriate use, if any, of tablet devices and smart phones in school.

Furthermore, it states consultation must be held on the issues governing the use of smart phones and tablet devices with regard to, for example, recording videos, taking photos; the nature and scope of restrictions that might be applied by the school e.g. age grounds, and if smart phones should be allowed outside of class time, such as during breaks, on school grounds, after school.

Mr Bruton said in a statement: "I recognise that the use of smart phones and tablet devices by our young people is an area that has raised concerns.

"New technologies are fundamentally transforming the world we live in. While these changes offer fantastic opportunities for our young people they are also associated with potential risks, which we as a Government are responding to."

He added: "New technologies can open up a world of opportunity for our young people but we must harness their potential and ensure that parents, students and schools have a shared understanding of their use our education system."