Jean-Michel Blanquer confirmed that the ban, which the government had been mulling for some time, will be implemented in September 2018.
Phones are already banned in the classrooms in France but from September next year, pupils will be barred from taking them out at breaks, lunch times and between lessons.
“These days the children don't play at break time anymore, they are just all in front of their smartphones and from an educational point of view that's a problem,” said Blanquer.
But it is not clear how the ban would work. There are suggestions that schools will have to provide lockers where pupils can keep the phones. Teachers also fear they will be asked to search pupils to make sure no one is flouting the ban.
“We are currently working on this [ban] and it could work in various ways,” said Blanquer. “Phones may be needed for teaching purposes or in cases of emergency so mobile phones will have to be locked away.”
For the education minister the issue of mobile phones and tablets is a matter of “public health”.
“It's important that children under the age of seven are not in front of these screens,” he added.
The minister also sees the move as a way of cutting down on cyber-bullying.
The ban would be imposed for primary schools and middle schools called “colleges” for pupils aged 11 to 15, but phones would be allowed in Lycee high schools.
French president Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, put banishing mobile phones from all primary and secondary schools in his manifesto ahead of his election victory in May.
Experts and trade unions have pointed out that using mobile phones in class is already outlawed in France, even though research shows that many pupils confess to having broken the rules.
Some teachers view phones as a source of a distraction and indiscipline which can be used for cyberbullying at school, while others believe they can be harnessed for educational purposes — under strict control.
One of the biggest groups representing parents of French school children, known as Peep, said previously it was sceptical that a ban could be implemented.
“We don't think it's possible at the moment,” said the head of Peep, Gerard Pommier.
“Imagine a secondary school with 600 pupils. Are they going to put all their phones in a box? How do you store them? And give them back at the end?”
In an interview with Express magazine earlier this year, Blanquer suggested that pupils might be asked to deposit their phones in secure boxes when arriving at school or for classes.
“At our cabinet meetings, we drop our phones in lockers before sitting down together. It seems to me that this should be possible for any human group, including classes,” he said.