SCHOOLS — MOBILE
695. Hon COLIN TINCKNELL to the Minister for Education and
Today the Victorian government
announced a statewide ban on mobile phone usage by all students during school
hours that will take place from the start of next year. This will effectively
be a bell-to-bell blackout of mobile phones unless for medical emergencies or
approved classroom usage by a teacher. This includes all breaks to help
encourage better social engagement.
Will the minister seriously
consider introducing a similar ban in Western Australia, or at least trialling
(a) If so, when will the Department
of Education or minister look to take such action?
(b) If not, why not?
I thank the honourable member for
some notice of the question.
I am not opposed to a ban on mobile
phones in schools, but it is not something I am currently looking to introduce.
Some significant changes have been announced that will now take effect, some of
them this year and some of them next year. If we look at the anti-violence
measures that have been put in place and, more recently, the introduction of a third
pathway for year 11 and 12 students, we will see the things that schools are
dealing with and settling into now, and I want them to concentrate on those
things. I am not opposed to it. There is mixed information and evidence
available about the extent taking phones off kids during school hours impacts
cyberbullying. It is a bit grey, because a lot of cyberbullying happens outside
school hours. However, what is really positive is kids talking to each other,
looking each other in the eye, running around the oval and playing games and
doing things. That is definitely a positive, and being off social media is just
good for your brain, whatever age you happen to be, I find. I am certainly not
opposed to it. I am not ruling it out, but in the immediate term I am not
making it a priority. I am interested to see how Victoria goes with it. If it
is something that is wanted by schools, parents and the community, we may well
(a) Not applicable.
(b) The use of
mobile phones in schools is a school decision. The member would have heard this
morning on the ABC, for example, that a principal at a public school has made a
decision that the school's policy will be no access to phones during
school hours. Principals work with their communities to determine the best
approach for their children. Some schools have a bell-to-bell blackout of
mobile phones, and others may permit their use when they support student
learning. For example, students may use an app to record and share data on a science
excursion. If mobile phones are allowed, principals are required to ensure the
rules they put in place minimise disruption to learning, promote respect and
consideration for others, and stipulate consequences for the inappropriate use
of these devices.
The PRESIDENT: Looking
around the chamber, it sounds like a very interesting proposal, and one which
we might give consideration to ourselves, at some point.