ACT Government resists Federal push to ban mobile phones in schools

Glynis Quinlan 28 June 2019 99

From next year Victoria will ban mobile phones from all public schools but the ACT Government is resisting a Federal Government push to do likewise.

The ACT Government is rejecting a Federal Government push to follow in the Victorian Government’s footsteps and ban mobile phones in public schools.

At an Education Council meeting in Melbourne on Friday (28 June), Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan told state and territory education ministers of the Morrison Government’s plans to deliver on an election commitment to remove mobile phones from classrooms in the current term of office.

But while this proposal lines up with Victoria’s plans to ban phones from public schools as of next year, it is opposed by ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry and her counterparts in Queensland, the Northern Territory and NSW (which currently has a ‘primary school only’ ban).

“The Morrison Government wants to see mobile phones out of the classroom to remove a distraction and reduce the incidence of cyberbullying and other inappropriate usage,” Mr Tehan said following the Education Council meeting on Friday.

“We have told all states and territories we will invite experts from France and Ontario, Canada, where phones have been banned from schools, to provide advice about their experiences.”

However, while Ms Berry is interested to hear how the Victorian ban is implemented, at this stage she believes that banning mobile phones from schools is not the “best way to support the development of children and young people”.

“Owning a device provides a great opportunity for students to expand their learning journey and we have some great examples in ACT public schools on using devices to enhance classroom activities,” Ms Berry said.

“Helping students understand what appropriate behaviour is both on and offline should be part of that learning journey.

“It’s important that children and young people are taught how to live alongside devices appropriately because this is a big part of our life now.”

Yvette Berry does not want to ban mobile phones from ACT schools as she believes using phones is part of the ‘learning journey’. File photo.

On Wednesday (26 June), Victorian Education Minister James Merlino announced that mobile phones will be banned for all students at Victorian state primary and secondary schools from Term 1 2020, to help reduce distraction, tackle cyberbullying and improve learning outcomes for students.

From next year, Victorian students will be required to switch off their phones and store them securely in lockers from the start of the school day until the final bell. When emergencies occur, parents or guardians will be asked to call the school to reach their child.

The only exceptions to the ban will be where students use phones to monitor health conditions, or where teachers instruct students to bring their phone for a particular classroom activity.

“This will remove a major distraction from our classrooms, so that teachers can teach, and students can learn in a more focused, positive and supported environment,” Mr Merlino said.

“Half of all young people have experienced cyberbullying. By banning mobiles we can stop it at the school gate.”

The Victorian mobile phone ban has been supported by psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg who said that all schools have a legal obligation to provide a safe environment in which to learn.

“This significant policy initiative is designed to ensure the well-being of young people while at school, free of distraction and potentially cyberbullying.”

However, the ACT Education Directorate said that what is important is the way these devices are used, rather than the devices themselves.

“Personal electronic devices such as smartphones are a common part of modern society and we need to build an understanding with our young people about the appropriate use of these devices in different contexts rather than simply a blanket ban,” a spokesperson for the ACT Education Directorate said.

“Our teachers teach to the Australian Curriculum, which expects students to develop skills using a range of devices for learning over their years of schooling. Devices such as smartphones and tablets can complement existing learning and teaching for those that wish to use them.

“For example, in an ACT high school, students may give a presentation to the class on a Chromebook while using a smart device for speaking notes,” the spokesperson said.

“Students may use a Virtual Reality application on a smartphone with the headset as part of an interactive project in class, or may make use of the light, mobile aspect of a smartphone or device by using them to take photos or to access appropriate learning apps for travelling class assignments.”

The Education Directorate spokesperson said that different schools and year levels have different approaches to the use of technology, including personal smartphones, for teaching and learning within class time.

“For example, many of our primary schools have a process where phones are left in bags or checked in to the front office for the day,” the spokesperson said.

“Schools partner with students and parents and carers to develop safe and appropriate skills in the use of ICT. This includes the necessary judgement on the benefits and consequences of the use of ICT across their school and social life so they are better equipped to make decisions about its use.”

In December last year, President of the ACT Parents and Citizens Association Kirsty McGovern-Hooley told Region Media that, while bans were not considered the best way to deal with mobile phone issues in schools, the situation across ACT schools was a bit disconnected.

“I would rather it’s not left up to the individual schools. I would rather we had something that’s standardised across all schools.”

Do you think mobile phones should be banned in ACT schools or are they an important part of the modern learning environment? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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99 Responses to ACT Government resists Federal push to ban mobile phones in schools
Carole Ford Carole Ford 8:19 pm 01 Jul 19

The rules need to be universal for every student, (and teacher), and no exceptions. We managed in the classroom before mobile phones and we can certainly manage again!! Technology is a huge part of our lives now, but the distraction factor should outweigh the need for use in classrooms. We truly don't need to have access all the time, I don't have mine with me while working in the classroom, I don't accept that students need theirs. We have allowed them to become the newest form of addiction.

Avril Pounds Avril Pounds 10:38 am 01 Jul 19

Removing mobiles won't remove bullying, just one type of bullying. Also, phones are just one form of technology. My high school student sometimes sends me emails during the school day from her school issued chromebook.

Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 8:21 am 01 Jul 19

Why? School kids!? Maby medical or if they are employed?

I do think most schools tend to ask for electronics to be stored in the students lockers during the day.

Summer Edwards Summer Edwards 9:08 pm 30 Jun 19

I want them banned in schools. My highly distractible son won't stand a chance if they are allowed. He is young now and won't have a phone for many years, but kids need boundaries against technology that actually changes their brains

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:14 pm 30 Jun 19

“At an Education Council meeting in Melbourne on Friday (28 June), Federal “Education Minister Dan Tehan told state and territory education ministers of the Morrison Government’s plans to deliver on an election commitment to remove mobile phones from classrooms in the current term of office.”

Unless there is truly compelling evidence in support of a ban, the federal government should leave it to the States and Territories to decide – and let them be accountable for the consequences of their decisions.

Nari Strange Nari Strange 6:06 pm 30 Jun 19

If phones were banned in class, results would possibly improve. Also the angst that would happen if it was lost; panic is likely. However - it still interrupts the normality of the need to study.

Brandon Primrose Brandon Primrose 2:28 pm 30 Jun 19

Our school has just removed the bell to head into the modern era, banning phones would contradict that move. I believe they should be allowed in schools but managed with a policy or agreement and consequences if the policy or agreement is broken.

    Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 6:27 pm 30 Jun 19

    No school bell?

    Brandon Primrose Brandon Primrose 7:05 pm 30 Jun 19

    Russell Nankervis yep they ditched the bell. Self managing

    Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 9:38 pm 30 Jun 19

    I never needed a watch because I could live off the bell. Once I left school a watch became crucial. That must be interesting. All the lazy kids can say they didn't know what the time was.

    Brandon Primrose Brandon Primrose 9:41 pm 30 Jun 19

    Russell Nankervis the first 2 weeks was interesting to watch but much to my surprise the kids are handling it.

    When they introduced it I was a hater - I did some googling and it’s actually a thing.

Gerard Dwyer Gerard Dwyer 1:01 pm 30 Jun 19

I just read this on my phone

Belinda Read Belinda Read 12:30 pm 30 Jun 19

Great minds 😂😂Wayne Read

Sharon White Sharon White 11:26 am 30 Jun 19

No it would make more bullying as children with type one diabetes who have their phones for their levels are single being bullied because they have to have a phone

Natalie Osburne Natalie Osburne 9:14 am 30 Jun 19

Teachers should decide not parents and politicians

Kellie Nissen Kellie Nissen 7:47 am 30 Jun 19

It's too late for that step ... take away a phone, they just go to another device! What we need is to educate EVERYONE (including adults) on phone/device etiquette.

NB. This is not the teachers' job btw - lessons on phone etiquette start at home

    Drago Zovak Drago Zovak 5:58 pm 30 Jun 19

    Kellie Nissen

    Never too late for change.

    Otherwise we'll just except it and do nothing, just like our political situation.

    Kellie Nissen Kellie Nissen 6:44 pm 30 Jun 19

    Drago Zovak not what I said - the change needs to occur with the way people behave with their phones. Banning something like this rarely ends well or achieves the desired outcome.

    Agree about the political situation though 🙄

    Adam JD Adam JD 8:38 pm 30 Jun 19

    Kellie Nissen So... you basically throw it in the too-hard basket?

Elspeth Shannon Rollason Elspeth Shannon Rollason 7:14 am 30 Jun 19

They are not necessary in primary school so yes they should definitely start with a ban at this level.

Christopher Rumley Christopher Rumley 7:14 am 30 Jun 19

Get rid of them. They are a total distraction in the classroom and so many of my students cant focus for more than a couple of minutes.

Teresa Helmling Teresa Helmling 11:48 pm 29 Jun 19

Are they going to ban watches as well since you can make calls and texts on them

    Linda Cousins Linda Cousins 10:53 am 30 Jun 19


    That’s a very good point

    Smart watches are just as bad as phones

Kimberley Lloyd Kimberley Lloyd 10:37 pm 29 Jun 19

Since when can’t messages be conducted through the front office

    Vic Franklin Vic Franklin 1:00 pm 01 Jul 19

    Kimberley Lloyd actually our school has introduced a policy where they will no longer read pick-up announcements due to privacy laws!

    Kimberley Lloyd Kimberley Lloyd 1:41 pm 01 Jul 19

    Vic Franklin so if the school won’t read “John Smith you have a message to pick up at the office” does that mean there is the requirement for all students to have a mobile?

    Vic Franklin Vic Franklin 10:45 pm 01 Jul 19

    Kimberley Lloyd no, my kids don't have one. Just pointing out that suggestions like yours that seem like common sense aren't always the most straightforward solution due to modern day practices!

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:32 pm 29 Jun 19

“I saw a great thing the other day about a teacher who encourages mobile phone use, he sets a news topic and gets the kids to investigate and come back with their views. He then sorts out fake news and how you should determine facts etc. “

Who on earth do the kids phone to get that information then? It must be annoying for the people they phone.

James Daniels James Daniels 10:04 pm 29 Jun 19

Considering there are now studies out there suggesting IQ's have started dropping, and smart devices may be part of the problem, banning them at schools may be worthwhile.

Narrelle Kelly Narrelle Kelly 9:43 pm 29 Jun 19

I notice all the old people on this site hate phones, Yada yada, in my day....I saw a great thing the other day about a teacher who encourages mobile phone use, he sets a news topic and gets the kids to investigate and come back with their views. He then sorts out fake news and how you should determine facts etc. maybe we don’t need more laws, maybe we just need better teachers.and maybe old people should also get better educated when it comes to being scammed on the “internet thing”

    Suzanne Tunks Suzanne Tunks 9:49 pm 29 Jun 19

    Narrelle Kelly I’m with you on the learning. They are a great tool when used appropriately and I think it’s really important to learn how to sift through the propaganda, I just don’t think children and teens should be able to use them freely all day at school for external purposes 😊 many workplaces don’t allow adults to be on their social media whilst working so practicing boundaries during school time is a good idea.

    Narrelle Kelly Narrelle Kelly 10:15 pm 29 Jun 19

    Suzanne Tunks agree but I think “banning” anything means even if those things have some benefits, they are outlawed for all. Seeing what has been happening with the press and foi, I’m al little over anything that says we should BAN and I won’t go there

    Suzanne Tunks Suzanne Tunks 10:29 pm 29 Jun 19

    Narrelle Kelly I’m with you on that 😊

    Narrelle Kelly Narrelle Kelly 10:30 pm 29 Jun 19

    Suzanne Tunks all good then

    Elizabeth Zatschler Elizabeth Zatschler 6:42 am 30 Jun 19

    Rather than phones they use their Govt issued Chromebooks on the school wifi for research and programs such as Mathspace etc.

    Elspeth Shannon Rollason Elspeth Shannon Rollason 7:20 am 30 Jun 19

    Instead of using their phones for educational purposes they should be using their government issued chromebooks in a public school and most private schools are BYOD. No need for a phone to be used as an educational device in the classroom when there are plenty of other options.

    Adam JD Adam JD 8:39 pm 30 Jun 19

    Narrelle Kelly That doesn't have to be done using phones though. 🤦‍♂️

    Roberta Curr Roberta Curr 8:16 am 01 Jul 19

    Narrelle Kelly It's not a ban on technology, they will still be on chromebooks all day and research online. No phones would just assist to restrict access to social media and games during class time and breaks. So many workplaces ask this of adults.

Anna Buckman Anna Buckman 9:41 pm 29 Jun 19

Honestly what a idiots, all social media, bulling and violence at ACT school . No one person care. What a shame .

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