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ACT Government resists Federal push to ban mobile phones in schools

Glynis Quinlan 29 June 2019 105

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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105 Responses to
ACT Government resists Federal push to ban mobile phones in schools
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6:08 pm 29 Jun 19

Certainly worth giving this a go to see if overall education standards improve. Possibly a really good idea in many workplaces as well.

6:10 pm 29 Jun 19

They were banned at my daughters high school in Victoria 9 years ago.

6:35 pm 29 Jun 19

I think they are not necessary at schools. I think there would be more face to face social interaction at lunchtime if there were no phones, i think it is pretty sad that most of them have their nose stuck in their phone instead of interacting with each other. I agree phones are useful, but they are really not needed in a school setting

    6:41 pm 29 Jun 19

    Emma Hawke and interestingly, schools who have banned mobile phones, say that playground interaction has increased hugely. Still haven't heard a good reason for students to have access to them in-school hours

    6:47 pm 29 Jun 19

    Tracey Crump medical reasons

    7:12 pm 29 Jun 19

    My daughter has serious medical issues and it’s vital that she let staff know that she is not well so they can manage the situation correctly and efficiently. No mobile phone on earth could replace what the teachers could do for her instead. Calling home would be of no use as she has to be medicated immediately not in 10 or 15 minutes unfortunately.

    7:21 pm 29 Jun 19

    The school has phones for use in medical situations. No need for kids to have them.

    7:44 pm 29 Jun 19

    Racheal Green maybe that’s the case for your daughter. However for a fact there are medical devices that is life or death for students and those devices require a smart phone to communicate to the student , their parents and special career at school. So yes phones are required for certain students with certain medical conditions

    7:44 pm 29 Jun 19

    Racheal Green yes, an exception. Doesn't mean that every child needs a phone next to them for the whole of the school day.

    8:01 pm 29 Jun 19

    AnneandMarc Blackmore I have yet to see a school death registered as lack of mobile.

    8:05 pm 29 Jun 19

    Ian McTaggart um.. try reading her comment in full...

    8:09 pm 29 Jun 19

    AnneandMarc Blackmore so, on balance, maybe one child per school has a condition of that severity...Maybe.

    8:09 pm 29 Jun 19

    AnneandMarc Blackmore if the student in unconscious, what good is the phone to the student holding it?... the devise should be registered with the school.

    9:10 pm 29 Jun 19

    Ian I actually don’t think they are a good idea in schools it’s disruptive.

    9:14 pm 29 Jun 19

    AnneandMarc Blackmore such as? Sorry my daughters condition is very serious and not something you can mess with and if she doesn’t immediately inform a teacher it’s literally the difference between life and death. I am not aware of any medical apparatus that require a smart phone for communication if the student is on a school site but am happy for you to guide me as I am genuinely interested. (Not being rude or sarcastic).

    11:47 pm 29 Jun 19

    Racheal Green continuous blood glucose monitor depending on the type requires a smartphone . T1D is life of death walking a tight rope every day.

    11:55 pm 29 Jun 19

    Tim Carter It appears that you don’t have any knowledge of medical devices I have referred to and how they interact and need smart phones

    12:53 pm 30 Jun 19

    AnneandMarc Blackmore wow they certainly have come a long way with Diabetes equipment that’s pretty cool. I am sure if there was a ban that this would be an exception for kids who require their device to be with them at all times. Thank you for the example.

6:39 pm 29 Jun 19

Of course the ACT Govt would resist. They take advice from no one!! They’ve managed to turn the ACT education system from the best in the country to the worst.

    6:41 pm 29 Jun 19

    Phil Andrews and the stuffed up the bus system as well! Since the light rail there are more cars on the road go figure!!

    6:45 pm 29 Jun 19

    Phil Andrews what facts do you base that statement on?

    7:18 pm 29 Jun 19

    Here AnneandMarc Blackmore

    7:41 am 30 Jun 19

    I see if its written by the CT then it must be right!🙄. Have you looked at the napaln data in detail? PS cant read the link you need subscription so useless to me and im sure many others

6:47 pm 29 Jun 19

For all the people that don’t have a problem with phones in school .... can you explain to me why they would need them ??

    6:57 pm 29 Jun 19

    For the same reason I "need" mine?

    It's not a matter of needing it. It's part of everyone's lives these days. We all need to learn to self regulate our use and use phones sensibly. Banning stuff is just the lazy option.

    7:01 pm 29 Jun 19

    Lin Van Oevelen....... yep teaching kids with phones in their possession must be very frustrating. I know most kids with phones a really happy to regulate their use !!!! They are kids, are you serious ?? Nothing but an unnecessary distraction

    7:23 pm 29 Jun 19

    Some kids don't have the required computers so they use their phones for education. Some kids have anxiety issues so it is a way to be able to regulate their anxiety (it's great for kids on the spectrum). Some younger kids walk or ride home and for safety reasons they carry a phone. I have said it on other posts the government told parents and students they have to have a computer you can not turn around and tell them they can't have a phone. Everything they do on a phone they can do on a computer.

    7:23 pm 29 Jun 19

    Corey Karl yes i agree, it is a bit much to expect a 12 year old kid to self regulate. I find it hard to self regulate myself! I think it would be easier all round for teachers and kids if they were left out of the school setting

    7:25 pm 29 Jun 19

    Leanne Hermes don't the act gov schools give each student a chrome book? My son got one starting high school

    7:31 pm 29 Jun 19

    So when do we expect them to learn to self regulate? When they leave school? When they get their first job? Yes, kids aren't adults but the aim is to turn them into responsible adults. Banning stuff doesn't teach them how to deal with it at all.

    7:38 pm 29 Jun 19

    Emma Hawke yes. But some are coming in from Queanbeyan so aren't allowed to get them. And I asked my kids and unless parents agreed the kids don't get the computer. So they use their phone. Go figure.

    7:40 pm 29 Jun 19

    Leanne Hermes but they can still have their phone before and after school apparently. So there's not really an issue with that. I think there are schools where the phones are kept in the student's locker and they can access it after the school day is finished. Of course, if there was an emergency the student would no doubt, be able to access their phone.

    7:42 pm 29 Jun 19

    Lin Van Oevelen are you a teacher, because I can imagine that teaching kids who are constantly checking their phone must be incredibly frustrating.

    Perhaps we should ask our teachers what they think?

    7:43 pm 29 Jun 19

    Lin Van Oevelen My understanding was that evidence is clear that kids/teens who have access to anything addictive have much less chance of self-regulating that addiction later in life. It is a completely different brain at this age and expecting it to self-regulate is not only unrealistic, but also altering future capacity.

    7:50 pm 29 Jun 19

    Leanne Hermes gees that's a bit rough isn't it? You'd think if they were at an act school they'd be eligible for the chrome book regardless of where they live

    7:51 pm 29 Jun 19

    Emma Hawke I thought so. It puts pressure on the parents that's for sure. I mean I love the government did it and surely there aren't to many kids from NSW but that's what they decided.

    8:22 pm 29 Jun 19

    Roberta, "anything addictive" is a very broad term. Did the study/ies this evidence came from include phones or anything comparable?

    8:13 am 30 Jun 19

    Leanne Hermes I think youd be surprised how many NSW kids come in to the ACT.Theres a lot of Transborder and Qcity school buses on the road

    9:46 am 30 Jun 19

    Lin Van Oevelen i don't think that phones should be banned, i just don't think they should be used during school/lunch time. My son has one as he makes his own way to and from school and makes his own way to after school sport. I just think they are not necessary in the school yard and class room. I think the self regulation should be taught more at home rather than another job for the teachers. They have got enough on their plate by the sounds of things

    10:45 am 30 Jun 19

    Corey Karl just to prove to them that we will always have a calculator with us!!! 😂

6:55 pm 29 Jun 19

Common sense decision and the federal education minister can mind his own business. The federal government doesn't provide most of the funding for public schools.

It's a decision that can be left to shools and I know ours is coping just fine with phones.

7:37 pm 29 Jun 19

I think they need to remove bullying from schools first, instead of it just being lip service about stopping bullying in schools.

    8:15 pm 29 Jun 19

    Jim Hosie this starts with parents(possibly your neighbours?) and how they raise their kids... community communication is a better start to resolving bullying over dumping it on teachers to raise your kids.

    9:53 am 30 Jun 19

    Tim Carter nice generalisation, pity it’s not based on reality. Maybe the schools should actually address bullying directly because clearly there’s an epidemic occurring in schools across the country and that’s in the schools themselves. Some community education campaign sounds nice but would be a bump in awareness on a bigger ongoing issue. I’ve worked firsthand with the system and kids involved. How often do schools actually speak with parents? How often are violent acts occurring at schools? It happens more than you think and many schools turn a blind eye to it, not all of them.

7:41 pm 29 Jun 19

And other than a gut feeling, on what basis is Minister Berry making this decision. Seems to be based on no science or expert advice.

8:02 pm 29 Jun 19

Maybe we should ask teachers to decide on this one. After all they know what reality looks like.

8:38 pm 29 Jun 19

If you don’t remove phones then schooling becomes an impossible task and a waste of billions of dollars. Kids can learn how to use their phones at home not during precious school time.

9:00 pm 29 Jun 19

My kids are 8 and under so this doesn’t affect me at this stage but out of interest, what do you think is a reasonable age for kids to actually have their first phone/device?

    9:26 pm 29 Jun 19

    Mark McCann I’d say as late as possible and def at least in highschool and with strict limits on access to data and wifi after hours. I regret giving Laura one at 13 and it didn’t have data but in on of her first phone bills she had sent more than a hundred messages one day between 9 and 10am and was at school! Some children can’t regulate their own limits.

    9:59 pm 29 Jun 19

    The boys got theirs at 14 on a prepaid $10 when it ran out it was out till next month.

    Blake was great with his BJ more like Laura however it's not something I regret they've used them well for school research as well as wasting time lol. When they were away from me it was a godsend. It has taught them responsibility, independence and the importance of reliability

    10:00 pm 29 Jun 19

    Suzanne wow. 100 messages in an hour. That’s dedication.

    10:01 pm 29 Jun 19

    Kathie good idea to get a monthly limit.

    10:04 pm 29 Jun 19

    Mark McCann yes they learn to use wifi at home very quickly too lol. And nowadays Blake pays for his own.

    7:23 am 30 Jun 19

    My son got his first phone this year at 15. Also on a prepaid plan that runs out of $ if he uses it within the month and I refuse to top it up until the month is up.

    9:49 am 30 Jun 19

    Mark McCann I got one for my son when he was 12, but that was because he started catching public transport across town (we lived in Sydney then) to dance classes and I was a bit nervous he would get lost.

    I then had to confiscate it at bedtime or he would stay up all night texting his girlfriend, so it was a real hassle, if you can wait longer, do.

    10:21 am 30 Jun 19

    From these replies it seems pretty common that early teen is around the right age. Thanks the comments everyone.

    12:04 pm 30 Jun 19

    Mark McCann I received an ipod at 12 but we had no wifi, just a dongle that plugged into the computer so it was used for games and music, I could only buy things on the app store if I had a gift card.

9:04 pm 29 Jun 19

How else will they film all the fights and violence that keep happening at schools under Berry's watch?

9:25 pm 29 Jun 19

Good luck!!

9:35 pm 29 Jun 19

My school allows phones on campus but they are confiscated on sight until Year 10. Even then, teachers generally don't allow them out unless to take pictures of examples on the board in class. Banning them is an arrogant idea by 40+-year-old adults who have no concept of how it's useful for students like myself. I think moderating and restricting use is the better way to go about it.

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 .

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”

    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.

    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

    10:29 pm 29 Jun 19

    Narrelle Kelly I’m with you on that 😊

    10:30 pm 29 Jun 19

    Suzanne Tunks all good then

    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.

    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.

    8:39 pm 30 Jun 19

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

    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.

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.

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.

10:37 pm 29 Jun 19

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

    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!

    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?

    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!

11:48 pm 29 Jun 19

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

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