Private school’s mobile phone policy sparks concerns

A Queensland principal has raised eyebrows over a new policy on mobile phones at his school.

Kimberley College, located in Brisbane, says it “has the right to peruse and copy the content of any phone brought onto college grounds, in order to ­ensure the safety and welfare of all students attending the college”.

“Students with phone content found to be in breach of the college’s anti-bullying policy or child protection policy, whether written or communicated during school time or not, will be subject to the college’s strict disciplinary procedures and may result in suspension or expulsion,” the policy states.

Under state school guidelines, a principal or staff member “does not have the authority to open, examine or otherwise deal with the property without the consent of the student or a parent of the student”.

“For example, a principal or staff member who removes a mobile phone from a student is not authorised to unlock the phone or to read, copy or delete messages stored on the phone,” the guidelines state.

Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) executive director, David Robertson, said the safety and wellbeing of students was “paramount and central” to the day-to-day running and policies of independent schools.

“Individual schools, which have their own governance bodies, prepare and implement guidelines and policies on matters such as the use of mobile phones and other technology which are in line with the values and expectations of their school,” he told The Educator.

“These policies are available at schools and are shared with parents on enrolment or when changes are made.”

Robertson added that these policies vary depending on each individual school’s approach to and use of technology within the curriculum and their behaviour management and enrolment policies.

“All schools are required to comply with relevant state and federal legislation covering areas such as child protection, anti-discrimination and privacy,” he said.
The school’s principal, Paul Thomson, has been contacted for comment.