Federal Education Minister Jason Clare says the “time has come” for a national policy on phones in state schools.
- Federal Education Minister Jason Clare will meet his state and territory counterparts in the coming months
- Queensland’s premier has promised to “step up to the plate” if a national policy on phone use in schools is brought in
- It is the only state where the government is yet to bring in rules for state schools
Every state and territory bar Queensland has phone rules for government-run schools, from blanket bans to keeping them turned off.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has promised to “step up to the plate” if a national policy is brought in.
Mr Clare told ABC Radio Brisbane he would be putting forward the idea of a “national best-practise approach” to state and territory education ministers when they meet in the coming months.
“I think the time has come as at the moment there’s different approaches in different states,” he said.
“Some states ban the use of phones in primary schools, and others ban it in primary schools and high schools.
“In other places they leave it to the judgement of the principals and in some places the rule is put your phone turned off in your bag and in others they use these magnetic pouches.
“So I think there is a good argument that we should be moving to a national best-practise approach.”
The ministers will also discuss a national approach to ChatGPT — a chatbot which can generate entire essays at the click of a button, and has already been banned in some schools to prevent students from cheating.
What are the rules around Australia?
Mobile phones will be banned in New South Wales public high school classrooms, recesses and lunchtimes from term 4. They are currently banned in primary schools, but not high schools.
Phones are banned for primary students in the Northern Territory but secondary students can have phones so long as they are turned off.
Phones are banned in 44 government schools in South Australia.
Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania have blanket bans in all public schools.
Why restrict phone use?
Michael Nagel from the University of the Sunshine Coast said we now have the evidence to show technology negatively affects adolescent development.
“Not only is working against the education process, it’s working against all manners of healthy development,” Dr Nagel said.
“For at least a decade or so, academic research wasn’t able to kind of catch up with how quickly technology was changing, which means it was hard to know exactly what the long term impact was on young brains being exposed to tablets and smartphones, but increasingly the research is now telling us that being on devices for extended periods of time is just not a good thing.”
Andy Mison from the Australian Secondary Principals Association said parents and educators “overwhelmingly” considered phones to be disruptive and addictive.
“They do take up a lot of time for school leaders and teachers and managing negative behaviours associated with them.
He said parents could contact the school if there was an emergency or need to speak with their child in school hours.
Queensland Shadow Education Minister Christian Rowen said his party would monitor developments in New South Wales, where the incoming Labor government plans to bring in a ban.