Mobile phones will be banned in WA public schools next year, in an effort to reduce student distraction in the classroom.
The State Government introduced the policy on Wednesday, to keep phones and similar devices “off and away all day” during school hours.
Under the ban, all public schools will implement a ban from 2020 on the use of mobile phones for students, from the time they arrive at school until the end of the school day including before school and break times.
The ban includes devices including phones, smart watches, earbuds, tablets and headphones unless instructed by a teacher.
Students from kindergarten to Year 6 will not be allowed to have mobile phones in school during the school day, while students from Years 7 to 12 need to have their phones turned off and out of sight until the end of day and smart watches must be also be set to airplane mode.
Exemptions will be made for students with special circumstances including monitoring a health condition.
Premier Mark McGowan said the policy was for the benefit of students.
“We want to create the best possible learning environment for WA kids, and our policy will allow students to focus on their school work, without the distraction of a mobile phone,” Mr McGowan said.
“The police will improve the health and wellbeing of students, by encouraging children to connect socially I class and in the school yard. Some schools have already adopted this policy, and the results have been very positive.”
He said the policy would help reduce cyberbullying in school.
“Additionally, while it is recognised that cyberbullying mainly occurs outside school time, banning the use of mobile phones will reduce external issues being brought into a school via technology,” Mr McGowan said.
Education minister Sue Ellery said it was a “game-changer” in the classroom..
“I have consulted with school leaders, students and parents about this decision.”
“Schools I have visited where phones are banned have reported that a tough stance has been a game-changer for students and staff.”
“Students are talking to each other face-to-face rather than texting and they’re not distracted from their work during class – overall those schools are much happier and connected places,” she said.
“I want that for all schools, which is why the new policy will roll-out across all public schools from the start of next year.”