NSW Labor Government Sends Schools Back to the Stone Age



Free student texting during class image, public domain CC0 photo.

Ananya V (Year 12)

School. An integral part of every child’s life and something that people remember as a large part of their developmental years. Needless to say, when something happens in schools, everyone takes notice, especially the students. 

In saying that, it’s essential to note what goes on in schools other than William Clarke. Our school provides us with a comfortable bubble and that often means we go unaware of things that go on in other schools, especially other public schools in NSW.  

A huge debate which has taken State Parliament by storm is the question: Should mobile phones be allowed in schools?  

Well, newly elected NSW Premier Chris Minns has followed through on his longstanding election promise and recently placed a mobile phone ban in public schools. This may seem like a no-brainer to many students at William Clarke, who are already familiar with a mobile ban during school hours.  

So why did this mobile phone ban make it to the news? It’s normal, isn’t it? 

Most schools haven’t been subjected to a phone ban before; students would instead be told to keep it out of sight, much like WCC’s existing phone policy. But Chris Minns wants to strengthen this policy further, ensuring it will improve education state-wide.  

The legislation hasn’t been put into place yet, but many schools have already begun implementing a phone ban. 

The condition of the legislation is that mobile phones cannot be used during recess, lunch, or any other part of school time. 

To those participating in sneaky phone usage at WCC (we see you), it might not seem like a huge issue; after all, it’s not like it’s locked away, right? Well, some schools have begun using a Yondr Pouch, a special fabric bag locked shut with powerful magnets. The only way to unlock the pouch and retrieve your phone is through another magnet located at “unlocking stations” around the school. 

Many people might have seen TikToks of students teaching others the wild and violent ways they attempt to open the Yondr Pouches. Some even bring in a “decoy” phone so that they can access a phone during the school day. 

Looking at these measures, though, makes many people wonder what the point of this is. Many people look at the desperate (and intense) measures people are willing to go to access their phones. This has made the public question whether the mobile phone ban is a good use of the newly elected government’s time.  

Despite the wishes and thoughts of many students however, there has been a sharp decline in behavioural issues and problems in schools where the phone ban was implemented, and many teachers note that students are more focused in class. 

 Dr Joanne Orlando, a digital expert at Western Sydney University, argued against the phone ban, saying that research indicates that academic outcomes do not improve because students rarely use phones in class. Instead, she advocates for greater digital literacy, focusing on teaching students and young people how to concentrate despite the constant distraction that phones provide. 

In her opinion piece published in The Conversation, she said, “Locking phones in pouches may be a short-term solution, but young people will still face these complex, technology-related issues, perhaps as soon as on the way home from school.” 

Parents have a different opinion, with many advocating for the phone ban; an online petition run by a parent group called The Heads Up Alliance has amassed signatures. Alongside this, the Premier and the Deputy Premier consulted other developmental and education experts before implementing this legislation. 

So, the next time you’re looking at your phone in school, or walking to your next class in the demountable, think about all the changes that have happened and are happening in schools all around us. After all, it’s important to be aware of school affairs. 


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