A statewide ban on mobile phones in public high schools has begun in NSW to mark the start of term 4.
From Monday, students are not allowed to use their phones during classes, recess or lunchtime but can before and after official school hours.
The ban brings NSW in line with Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, with Queensland set to follow next year.
It will be up to individual schools how they impose the ban, with some simply telling students to hand their phones in or place them in a locker at the start of the day.
Other schools even have lockable pouches where phones must be placed when the morning bell rings.
The pouches can then only be unlocked at a special station outside the school gates.
Premier Chris Minns announced the ban in April this year after featuring it as a promise in his successful election campaign.
“I know many parents who are anxious about the pervasiveness of phones and technology in our children’s learning environments,” Mr Minns said.
“It’s time to clear our classrooms of unnecessary distractions and create better environments for learning”.
Mobile phones are already banned in primary schools across NSW.
As well as better learning outcomes, the NSW government hopes the ban will help tackle the growing scourge of social media-fuelled cyberbullying.
“A blanket ban in high schools will create a level playing field, reduce distractions in classrooms, help address cyberbullying issues and improve student learning outcomes,” Education and Early Learning Minister Prue Car said.
“We know that parents across the state are concerned about the impact that devices like smartphones are having on their kids’ learning and mental health.”
Some high schools in NSW had already banned mobile phones, with teachers pleased at how quickly students welcomed a phone-free school day.
“I was overwhelmingly, positively surprised at how quick students were able to adjust and accept (the ban), and now I’m proud to say that it’s part of our school culture,” Killara High School principal Robin Chand told The Daily Telegraph.
Killara High implemented the ban at the start of the year and Mr Chand said the lack of phones had significantly improved common school issues such as distraction in class and bullying.
Enforcing the ban may mean extra work for teachers, but one school that has had a phone ban in place for years said it was a price worth paying.
Condell Park High School is way ahead of the curve when it comes to banning phones, making the decision 16 years ago to have students place their phones on trolleys at the start of each day.
“This means teachers and students are focusing on teaching and learning with no interruptions. There’s also no room for cyberbullying, social media or taking photos and videos during the school day,” school principal Susie Mobayed said.
“Our approach is strongly supported by our P&C (people and culture) and parents.”
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