4 April 2023

Mobile phones to be banned in NSW high schools

| Lizzie Waymouth
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Young people holding phones

From October, students in NSW public schools will be banned from using phones in classrooms and during break periods. Photo: File.

Mobile phones will be banned in NSW public high schools from Term 4, the newly elected Labor Government announced this week, following through on one of its election promises to tackle screen-related addictions in young people.

“The statistics are in,” NSW Premier Chris Minns said.

“We know that kids who are in schools that have a mobile phone ban in place are getting better test results. There’s more social interaction at school. There’s more physical interaction at school.

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“We think it’ll make a big difference, and we want to make sure NSW students aren’t falling further behind their interstate cohorts.”

Schools will be left to decide how they wish to implement the ban.

“We’re going to leave that up to the school communities,” Mr Minns said, citing a central locker or pouches as examples of easy solutions already applied by some NSW schools.

Yass High School has banned mobile phones since Term 1 of 2021. The phones are locked in Yondr pouches, which have been widely used in the UK and US and are gaining popularity in Australia.

Yondr pouch

Yass High School introduced lockable Yondr pouches to create a phone-free space. Photo: NSW Education.

The new policy was generally well received by parents, and even students warmed to it, even though before the introduction of the pouches, “teachers were reporting disruptions to learning, mainly because students were using their phones in class” Principal Linda Langton said.

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The ban has led to a marked improvement in behaviour and a reduction in cyberbullying and has encouraged students to be more active in the playground rather than sitting on their phones.

“Our suspension data has dropped immensely … we had over 100 suspensions in a year, and now that’s under 80 at the same time the school has been growing,” Ms Langton said.

Mobile phones have already been banned in primary schools in NSW and high schools in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory, with similarly positive results.

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