There are a myriad of comments that can and should be made about this move by the DET to ban mobile phones in schools. The most important of all is this: Given that many schools had already banned phones or established policies to limit their use at school, in making a blanket ban such as this, school leadership and autonomy is undermined, and the general public reasonably form the view that school leaders are incapable of making such decisions, eroding confidence in Government schools. Additionally, being notified of such a monumental move by media release is far from acceptable.
I am in favour of schools taking action to control mobile phone use in schools. I believe that mastering and controlling students and technology has far more benefits in an educational setting than banning it. In my view, the DET should have put together a package to support schools, to implement an appropriate change to their local policy and rules for their particular community, giving them ownership of the move.
It appears as if most parents are supportive of this ban, with one parent contacting me directly to say that “I am a Victorian parent and I am overjoyed today about the news to ban mobile phones in schools” She claimed that her daughter, currently in Year 6, was extremely anxious about moving to secondary school and the likelihood of cyberbullying impacting on her in that move. She said “mobile phone misuse and overuse has long been a concern as it undermines student’s ability to communicate, play sport and also exposes then to viewing of pornography in the school yard.”
The implementation of this blanket ban will produce huge administrative and relationship challenges in some schools. Which I hope will be offset by the reduction in parents turning up at schools, summoned by a child who had made a complaint about a teacher or fellow student by text, or called mum because they were “unwell” and didn’t want to be there any more. School yard incidents involving phones and inappropriate use should end although the ban will not bring an end to bullying or cyber bullying per se. It will, I hope, encourage kids to socialise, communicate and be more active in the school yard. Unsurprisingly, we need to be alert to the level of addiction there is to mobile phones, with a disturbing story of a Chinese student, in Henan, who jumped off a third floor school balcony after a teacher confiscated his phone. Fortunately, he survived the incident.
Interestingly, the NT Minister for Education, Selena Uibo, rejected the idea of the blanket ban, as have all other Ministers for Education. Ms Uibo said “An outright ban on mobile phones fails to take into account the many ways in which they can enhance learning. Responsible