04/12/2020 | John Gardner MP | Better Services

A new policy that includes a proposal to restrict primary aged students from accessing mobile phones or personal devices during school hours has been released by the Government for consultation with schools.

Educators can now provide feedback on the draft policy, which will be introduced in government schools in 2021.

Many students currently bring mobile phones and personal devices to school to ensure their safety while travelling and so parents can contact them outside of school hours.

Under the draft policy, access to phone and personal devices while the student is on school grounds would be restricted in primary schools. Secondary schools will adopt mobile phone policies that suit the circumstances of their school community, according to a policy framework that prioritises learning.

The policy does not apply to school-sanctioned ‘bring your own devices’ such as laptops and iPads used for learning purposes.

“This draft policy, developed in close consultation with school principals, principal associations and senior school leaders, sets out a sensible approach to managing the use of mobile phones during school hours, but we want to test it with our educators to ensure it is workable on the ground,” said Education Minister John Gardner.

“We understand that families may want their child to have a phone while travelling to and from school so they can contact them outside school hours. This is a non-negotiable aspect of the policy.

“However, we believe that during school hours it is sensible for primary students to store their personal devices safely so they can focus on learning.

“At secondary level, we understand that there needs to be more flexibility for sites to develop their own policies that reflect the needs of the school community.

“Some schools actively use apps in phones as part of learning programs. Some teachers get their students to use their phones’ camera function to photograph notes in class so they can stay engaged in their learning more effectively. And we note that a rule that is appropriate for a 12 year old student is not always relevant for an 18 year old.

“The draft policy provides a strong framework of principles, with the necessary element of local flexibility to accommodate the different needs of individual school communities.”