Mobile phones in Queensland state schools will be ‘away for the day’
Published Thursday, 06 July, 2023 at 06:24 PM
Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing
The Honourable Grace Grace
- Full ban will commence by Term 1 2024 – mobile phones to be ‘away for the day’
- Almost all state schools already have bans in place, but not all cover break times
- Ban will also cover certain wearable devices like smartwatches
- National commitment made at Education Ministers’ Meeting in Canberra today
- Queensland’s nation leading anti-cyberbullying work will continue
Education Minister Grace Grace has announced mobile phones and certain wearable electronic devices like smartwatches will be banned at all Queensland state schools during school hours – including break times - from Term 1, 2024.
Principals and school leaders across Queensland have already implemented bans and been supported to do so: over 95% of schools have a clear policy banning the use of phones during class times, with the remaining schools restricting usage informally.
Of the 95% of schools with classroom bans, around 15% do not extend to break times.
Following the implementation of all recommendations from the nation leading Anti-Cyberbullying 2018 Taskforce, all state schools have been required to outline how they manage mobile phones, including in the context of cyberbullying and distractions in the classroom.
Earlier this year, Minister Grace asked the Department to seek the latest information about the different approaches being used in state schools; appointed former Queensland Family and Child Commissioner Cheryl Vardon to carry out an independent review into the current policy; and sought discussion on a nationally consistent approach through the Education Ministers’ Meeting.
Ms Vardon’s full report is due later this month, but she has advised one of the core recommendations is to implement statewide restrictions on the access to mobile phones and certain other devices during school hours.
Once Ms Vardon’s full report is received, the Department will work closely with schools on how to best implement the ban in a way that reflects the realities of their school. For example, a small school in the outback may require students to hand phones in to a nominated staff member, while a school with thousands of students may choose to use lockable pouches.
Minister Grace will continue discussions with other Education Ministers on producing consistent guidelines for implementation across states and territories.
Queensland will also continue its nation leading work into anti-cyberbullying. The Department’s dedicated cybersafety team has been singled out for praise by a Royal Commission for both its preventative and reactive achievements; the Respectful Relationships program is backed by $15m for specialist advisors and investment in professional development; and a University of Queensland independent evaluation has commended the Department’s strong commitment and measures to reduce cyberbullying.
Quotes attributable to Education Minister Grace Grace:
“From Term 1, 2024, mobile phones will need to be ‘away for the day’ in all Queensland state schools, building on the excellent work of our Principals and school leaders to date.
“Under our existing policy, almost all our state schools have implemented some kind of ban on the use of mobile phones, and they have been fully supported to do so.
“This statewide ban will provide uniformity, extend bans to break times, and include certain wearable devices like smartwatches.
“We are always happy to take a fresh look at things: the progression of technology and proliferation of wearable electronic devices meant it was time to do a review, and I thank Ms Vardon for her ongoing work.
“I’ve met with Ms Vardon, and she has made clear recommendations to ban phones and certain wearable devices during school hours, and for an education campaign for families.
“Both of those things will happen, and the campaign will complement the extensive and nation leading work we already do on cyberbullying.
“As has been the case for many years, Principals who want to introduce or update bans before next year can do so.”
Students will still be able to bring phones to school so that they can contact their parents or carers immediately before or after school hours. Exemptions will also be available for digital learning opportunities or in specific circumstances including reasons related to health and well-being.
Ms Vardon’s report, the research into current bans in schools, and the UQ evaluation into the effectiveness of responses to address cyberbullying following the implementation of all recommendations from the Premier’s nation leading Anti-Cyberbullying taskforce, will be published – along with the government’s responses - in due course.
Media contact – Kate Talbot, 0439 803 211