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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Mobile phone ban unlikely for ACT schools

A mobile phone ban to be introduced in all Victorian state schools is unlikely to be adopted in Canberra, according to ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry.

The Victorian ban, announced last week on Wednesday 26 June, will be implemented from the first school term next year in a bid to tackle cyberbullying and reduce distraction for students.

Minister Berry said it’s important for children and young people to be taught how to live alongside devices appropriately, because they are “a big part of our life now”.

She said helping students understand appropriate behaviour both on and offline should be part of the learning journey, and banning phones in school may not be the best way to support the development of children and young people.

“Owning a device provides a great opportunity for students to expand their learning journey and we have some great examples in ACT public schools on using devices to enhance classroom activities,” she said.

“I will be interested to hear how the Victorian ban will be implemented.”

The ban has come under scrutiny as students will still have access to devices at home, while many schools have a program whereby students are regularly using devices such as laptops or tablets for lessons.

An ACT Education Directorate spokesperson said this presents the opportunity for young people to learn about the appropriate use of the device.

“What is important is the way these devices are used, rather than the devices themselves,” the spokesperson said.

“[ACT] Students may use a virtual reality application on a smartphone with the headset as part of an interactive project in class, or may make use of the light, mobile aspect of smartphone or device by using them to take photos or to access appropriate learning apps for travelling class assignments.”

The spokesperson said there is a formal ICT (information and communications technology) policy in place across all ACT public schools, and devices are used in class under supervision from teachers.

“Different schools and year levels will have different approaches to the use of technology, including personal smartphones, for teaching and learning within class time. For example, many of our primary schools have a process where phones are left in bags or checked in to the front office for the day.”

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