A headteacher has asked parents to put away their phones at the school gates, saying families are losing the “joy of conversation”.

Andy Best asked Pashley Down Infant School parents to keep phones in their pockets over fears that a lack of conversation had been affecting students' vocabulary.

The school in Eastbourne said parents have responded positively to the request and will help to educate pupils about screen time.

Mr Best, 44, said: “It has seemingly got people talking. People say they like what we are doing; it’s good it’s generating some discussion.

Pashley Down Infant School headteacher Andy BestPashley Down Infant School headteacher Andy Best (Image: SWNS)

“It’s just a snapshot of the day, but are we losing the art of conversation? Are we losing talking as a family?”

In a newsletter sent out to parents, Mr Best made the “polite request” to help raise awareness of the issue.

He said he believed children were entering primary school with less vocabulary because families are “not talking enough at home”.

He stressed that the issue is not isolated to his school but he wanted to “start a conversation and get people talking”.

He added: “If you put up a similar sign in a restaurant it might have an impact. It’s clinging on to the joy of talking when we are together.

“Sometimes children don’t want to talk that much, but at least give them the opportunity to. They might want to talk to mum or dad, but they might not be able to.

“They might have just got a star of the day sticker and be excited to tell their parent. It’s the initial disappointment of ‘I can’t wait to give them the news’.

“I think a policy about phones like this would benefit all schools – or even restaurants as well. It isn’t just schools, but they are a community.

“The scarier side of this is that the children will see [their parents being on their phones] as normal, and it shouldn’t be.”