Mobile phones will be banned from Victorian state primary and secondary schools under strict new rules aimed at tackling cyber bullying and distractions in the classroom, The Age reports.
The Victorian government has adopted one of the world’s toughest stances on mobile phone use in schools and from the start of next year, students must switch off their devices and store them in lockers during school hours.
Students from prep to Year 12 will not be allowed to use their phones during recess and lunchtime.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said teachers and parents regularly raised concerns about mobile phones’ effect on students.
“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,” he said.
He said the move would also help combat bullying, citing research from Headspace which found 53 per cent of young Australians had experienced cyber bullying.
The move follows French schoolchildren under 15 being banned from using phones at school and the NSW government outlawing mobile phones in its public primary schools. Federal education minister Dan Tehan has also been urging states to ban the devices from classrooms.
While many Victorian schools have already introduced their own phone bans, this is the first time a statewide ban has existed.
Exemptions will be granted to students who use phones to monitor health conditions, and students will be able use phones for classroom activities if they receive permission from their teacher.
Victorian Association of State Secondary Schools president Sue Bell said while some principals supported the ban, others felt they had a duty to teach students how to use the devices properly.
But child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Greg, who led an independent review for the NSW government ahead of its phone ban, welcomed the “courageous” move.