Mobile phones to be banned in all public schools

Mobile phones will be banned in all public schools from 2020.
Mobile phones will be banned in all public schools from 2020.

A STATE-wide policy to ban students in all public schools from using mobile phones during school hours was announced this morning.

Premier Mark McGowan and Education Minister Sue Ellery were at Ocean Reef Senior High School to introduce the ‘off and away all day’ policy that will ban the use of phones and other devices such as smart watches, earbuds, tablets and headphones for students from next year.

Ocean Reef has had its own mobile phone and digital device policy in place since the start of 2018.

Following consultation with schools that already have successful guidelines in place, the ban will start from the time students arrive at school until the end of the school day and include all break times.

Students from kindergarten to Year 6 will not be permitted to have mobile phones in their possession during the school day, while students from Years 7 to 12 must have their phones turned off and kept out of sight.

Smart watches must be set to airplane mode.

Exemptions to the policy will be made for students with special circumstances such as medical conditions or when directed by a teacher.

Parents will be contacted with information on the policy, including how to contact their school’s administration if they need to get in touch with their child during school hours.

Education Minister Sue Ellery, Joondalup MLA Emily Hamilton, Ocean Reef SHS students ZJ Tan, Joshua Robinson and Owen Ngo Burns Beach MLA Mark Folkard and Premier Mark McGowan at the announcement.

Mr McGowan said the policy would allow students to focus on their school work, without the distraction of a mobile phone.

“The policy will improve the health and wellbeing of students by encouraging children to connect socially in class and in the school yard,” he said.

“Some schools have already adopted this policy and the results have been very positive.”

Mr McGowan said the policy also responded to concerns from parents and teachers about the “pressures and demands that carrying a mobile phone brings to young people”.

“Additionally, while it is recognised that cyberbullying mainly occurs outside school time, banning the use of mobile phones will reduce external issues being brought into a school via technology,” he said.

Ms Ellery said she had consulted with school leaders, students and parents about the decision.

“Schools I have visited where phones are banned have reported that a tough stance has been a game-changer for students and staff,” she said.

“Students are talking to each other face-to-face rather than texting and they’re not distracted from their work during class. Overall those schools are much happier and connected places.

“I am absolutely supportive of using technology as a tool for learning and this policy doesn’t limit those opportunities.”

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