Children are turning up at school fully equipped with mobile phones, iPods and MP3 players, but not the basic essential of a single pen.
According to a survey of 8,231 teachers by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, 51 per cent said that children failed to turn up with the proper equipment for school.
"Parents can't simply abandon their responsibilities at the school gate," the Independent quoted Chris Keates, the union's general secretary, as saying at annual conference in Glasgow.
"Too many pupils arrive at school with mobile phones, iPods and MP3 players when teachers wish they could bring a pen," Keates added.
Forty-six per cent said mobile phones were a distraction in class, with pupils seeking to upload pictures which had been taken in the classroom. Twenty-eight per cent also cited the use of iPods in class as a major distraction.
However, 56 per cent of those surveyed rejected another government proposal - that they should be given more authority to search pupils.