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Phone ban welcomed

Phone ban welcomed

Benefits of student mobile phone ban already proven in Gippsland

The principal of the School for Student Leadership, Mark Reeves, has welcomed the state government ban on students using mobile phones at public schools.

The school which has four campuses, including the Snowy River campus at Marlo and the Alpine campus at Dinner Plain, has not allowed phones for the last 20 years.

"From those early days we recognised the importance of the students actually having direct relationships and direct conversations with people; the importance of being able to talk to real people and not commodify people through the use of apps and the like," Mr Reeves said.

"We wanted them to spend more time looking up than looking down, in reality."

Mobile phones will be banned for all students at Victorian state primary and secondary schools from Term 1 2020, to help reduce distraction, tackle cyber bullying and improve learning outcomes for students.

According to the latest research from Headspace, around 53 per cent of young Australians have experienced cyberbullying.

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Minister for Education James Merlino said teachers and parents also frequently raise concerns about the use of mobile phones during school hours as a cause of constant distraction in classrooms.

"Rolling out a state-wide policy will provide consistency and certainty for parents, students and school communities," Mr Merlino said.

Students will be required to switch off their phones and store them securely in lockers from the start of the school day until the final bell. When emergencies occur, parents or guardians can reach their child by calling the school.

Mr Reeves said their experience at Marlo and Dinner Plain is that "once they put it down and let go of it, the value of connecting with each other and having face-to-face conversations, and interacting even with the natural environment without technology, has been a thing that they value even more."

"Things like student engagement, student learning, lack of student distractions have been through the roof in our campuses," Mr Reeves said.

The only exceptions to the ban will be where students use phones to monitor health conditions, or where teachers instruct students to bring their phone for a particular classroom activity. At all other times phones must be in lockers.

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