From The Principal – Mobile Phones In Schools
The use of mobile phones in schools has been in the media in recent weeks. Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, called on all Australian schools to ban the use of smartphones in classrooms, saying they were a distraction to learning.
What is happening around the world?
Recently world-renowned Finnish education expert, Dr Pasi Sahlberg, also called for smartphones to be banned in primary schools and this year, France will be enforcing a total ban on mobile phone usage in primary and middle schools across the country, meaning that students will be allowed to take their phones to and from school, but will not be permitted to use their devices during the classes, or during breaks.
What are mobile phones great for?
As a communication device, mobile phones, when used appropriately, offer students and parents ease of communication and a sense of personal safety.
What are the major disadvantages?
Mobile phones may have started out as devices to keep us connected and safe, but then they became ‘smart’ phones. Now they are entertainment systems, babysitters, distractions, sources of anxiety and at worst, weapons in social wars. They no longer act as a way of keeping parents and kids connected, in fact, they can drive a wedge between us. Knowing Girls – Why A Mobile Phone Ban Is A Gift to Students.
Mobile devices can negatively impact the learning environment, leading to distractions and time wasting. It is this understanding that has lead Santa Maria College to remove phones from the school environment. Kerrie House, Dean of Year 7 says,
“We want the kids here with us, connecting, socialising and learning. We want them in community with us. This isn’t something we are doing to kids, it’s something we are doing for them”.
Constant connectivity removes the focus from developing friendships and hinders full participation in the co-curricular life of the College and the quality of in-person social interactions. Inappropriate use of mobile devices could include students using them to intimidate others through any form of messaging, photographic or video sharing. This type of misuse would be dealt with under the Pastoral Care Policy.
Teachers may permit students to use mobile phones in class for educational purposes but in a very controlled manner, however, generally the student’s laptop is a suitable alternative.
What is Santa Maria College’s Mobile Phone Policy?
At Santa Maria College students are expected to use mobile devices in a safe, responsible and ethical manner reflective of our Mercy values and in accordance with the College’s Mobile Phone Policy Guidelines :
- Once at school all mobile phones must be on silent, as phones that ring or beep during the school day are disruptive.
- Years 5 and 6 students must hand their phones to their class teacher on arrival at school and collect it at the end of the school day.
- Years 7 to 10 students are to place their phones in their locked locker on arrival at school and only remove it at the end of the school day. It should not be checked during breaks.
- Years 11 and 12 students must have their mobile phones turned off but may carry them with them.
- If mobile devices are seen or used during the day, they will be confiscated and stored at Student Services.
How can parents help?
Parents can work in partnership with our staff by encouraging their daughters to follow the above guidelines. For example, encourage them not to send messages during school hours and by not responding to messages sent by your daughter following a situation at school. These situations are more easily understood and resolved face to face.
In an age where we are spending many waking hours engaged with technology, it is a challenge for schools to manage. We believe and actively support the restriction of mobile phones usage during school time to ensure effective learning.