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Fury ahead of big school change

A sweeping change in rules to take effect at the start of Term 4 has sparked wild debate among parents.

Some experts say classroom cellphone bans will improve learning and reduce bullying, but others say they are still a useful tool for student safety.

The new rule will officially roll out in every school in the state at the start of Term 4 on Monday, October 9, after it was announced by Premier Chris Minns earlier this year.

Mr Minns at the time cited better test results, reduced incidents of bullying and increased social interaction as reasons for the change.

“Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria – all of these states have implemented a ban,” he said, adding he didn’t “want to see NSW kids fall behind”.

While the move has been celebrated by many parents, it has left some nervous about what practical impact the rule would have on students.

Some had concerns about what the ban would mean for students with illnesses or disabilities, while others suggested it was “too little too late” and felt kids would still find a way to use their devices.

NSW Premier Chris Minns meets the students of Condell Park High School as he announces the state’s mobile phone ban. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard

“[The ban] Will make things a lot harder for many neurodivergent students, but I suspect they weren’t consulted,” one parent wrote in a comment to the rule being shared on social media.

“I’m not saying I necessarily feel that MOST students won’t benefit from this ban or something similar but there are certainly some students that won’t and many are probably already struggling in a school environment,” another said.

One parent said it was “a bit of a pain” because her child typically used their phone to pay for canteen items and would now need to take a physical card.

“Banning things never works so yeah appearing to do something while doing nothing. Also how hard is it to get around this? I don’t think it is even that challenging for teens,” another doubtful parent said.

“Wow little too late to be honest but good change finally,” someone else said.

The move was described “hypocritical” by another parent because there were no similar rules for teaching staff.

“I would like to see parliament and teachers follow this as well. Bit hypocritical. Do as I say not as I do,” they wrote.

Secretary of the NSW Education Department, Murat Dizdar, with students at Toongabbie East Public School. Picture: NSW Department of Education

One stressed mum said her daughter’s phone helped manage her medication.

“My 12-year-old starts Year 7 next year and uses her phone alarms for medication. This is poorly thought through and won’t achieve anything,” she wrote.

The ban was “going to be hard”, according to another mum.

“I agree with it somewhat, however the WiFi at my kids school isn’t the best so a lot hotspot to their phones. Plus, what if I need to contact my kids during the day? It’s going to be hard,” she said.

Dozens of others thought the negative feedback was completely unjustified and pointed out there would be exceptions for certain students who had medical reasons to have their phone.

“They are the biggest distraction and impediment to student learning and overall academic success. This is great,” one wrote.

She did however acknowledge inevitable difficulties in policing the ban.

“How the hell is it going to be policed in the classroom? Good luck if you work in a public school,” she said.

“Yes, kids don’t need them. It’s a distraction from learning and an awful tool for bullying. If they need to phone home they can go to the office,” one parent said.

The topic has stirred up considerable debate among parents across NSW, however the consensus appeared to be in favour of encouraging children off their devices and into the playground.

How the ban works

Mobile phones have already been banned in primary schools and will now be banned in high schools to bring NSW in line with schools in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria and Western Australia.

The ban on mobile phones will apply during class, recess and lunch times, as is the case in NSW public primary schools.

Students will be allowed to carry their phones while travelling to and from school.

A number of high schools have already banned the use of mobile phones at school – requiring phones to be put in lockable pouches, lockers, bags or simply making students hand in their phones at the beginning of the school day.


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