Silent mode era for NSW students as phone ban comes into effect

Silent mode era for NSW students as phone ban comes into effect

From today, a ban on mobile phones in NSW high schools comes into effect, fulfilling an election promise of the Minns Government.  

With a ban already in place in primary schools across the state, the new policy brings high schools in line with those in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria, and Western Australia. Queensland schools are set to ban mobile phones from Term 1, 2024, leaving Tasmania the only jurisdiction in Australia yet to follow suit.

Under the new rules, NSW high school students will no longer be able to use their phones during class, recess, and lunch times. However, they will still be allowed to carry their phones while traveling to and from school.

“The Minns Labor Government made a commitment at the election to ensure public school students in NSW are not distracted by mobile phones at school, and I am proud that today our commitment has come into effect,” NSW Education Minister and Deputy Premier Prue Car told The Educator.

“From today, phones in all NSW public high schools must be turned off and out of sight during the school day – including at recess and lunch.”

Minister Car said this decision was made because the government “listened to teachers, principals and parents, who told us mobile phones are damaging the learning environment and mental health of our children.”

“This ban creates a level playing field across all NSW high schools, and means students will able to focus on what’s important – learning in the classroom,” Car said.

“What we’ve heard from schools who already have bans in place gives me real confidence that this commonsense measure will improve student learning and social development outcomes.”

The NSW Secondary Principals Council president, Craig Petersen said the SPC has not supported in the past, mainly due to concerns about the need to enforce such a ban falling onto schools and possibly creating additional tension between home and school.  

"We have also expressed concerns around equity issues, as we know that for some students their mobile phone is their only access to technology," Petersen told The Educator. "The reality is that the vast majority of NSW government secondary schools already implement some form of local ban or restriction on phones."

Petersen said the SPC is pleased to see that the Department’s Mobile Phone Policy will allow most schools to continue to implement these local arrangements with the benefit of clear support from the Department.

"We are also pleased to see that Principals will be able to make exemptions where there is a strong case for consideration, including monitoring of medical conditions, and also where classroom teachers require the use of mobile phones as a valid educational tool."