Mobile phones to be banned in NSW high schools from October

NSW Premier Chris Minns has made good on a key election promise to ban mobile phones in high schools this year, but will face tougher crossbench negotiations to enact other commitments that will require legislative change.

Minns on Monday announced the compulsory ban on phones in NSW high schools would take effect from day one of term 4 this year, insisting that young people would be at risk of declining educational results without it.

“This will affect over 400 schools across the states. Upwards of 320,000 students will be caught up in this ban. We believe that it’s necessary when you look at other states across Australia that have implemented a similar ban,” he said.

NSW Premier Chris Minns  at Condell Park High School, where a phone ban has already been in place for 16 years.


Introducing the ban did not require new legislation but could instead be enacted by way of regulation, unlike other election policies for which Minns’ minority government will require crossbench support.

On policies such as gambling reform or repealing the former government’s stamp duty policy, the premier said he was confident of securing majority support in the lower house.

“We don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We will have, of course, talks with crossbenchers across the political spectrum,” he said.

“The crossbench in this parliament is the largest we’ve seen in decades in NSW. Labor is on 45 seats, and it requires two more to get legislation through, and we’re hopeful to be able to be in a position to speak to one or to all of the crossbench about our legislative agenda that has to take place in the coming days.”

Further counting of postal votes in Terrigal, on the Central Coast, and Holsworthy, in Sydney’s south-west, confirmed early Saturday afternoon that both seats would remain Liberal held, putting a 47-seat majority out of reach of the Minns government.

“I think it’s very clear we’re headed to a minority government in NSW with a hung parliament. But we’re prepared for that,” he said. “We’ve got the confidence and supply from three independents. There’ll be a large crossbench in the Legislative Assembly and we’re confident that we can roll out our policy agenda around schools and hospitals and driving down the cost of living.”

Minns on Monday announced the October start date of the mobile phone ban at Condell Park High School, where a phone ban has already been in place for 16 years.

NSW Premier Chris Minns and Deputy Premier and Education Minister Prue Car.

Dominic Lorrimer

Principal Susie Mobayed, who has overseen the ban, said the impact on student learning and socialisation was formative.

“The kids arrive in the morning, they come up to the foyer … we’ve got some pouches ready for them, just simple plastic bags with their names on them,” she said. “It’s divided among two groups from [year] 7 right through to 12. They leave their phone there … go to class all day and at the end of the day, they have to come back and collect the phones.”

Deputy Premier and Education Minister Prue Car said, by voting for Labor, the people of NSW were voting for an improvement to educational outcomes for children across the state.

“The mobile phones will be a key part in making this happen. This ensures that teachers teaching in classrooms can do so without the distraction of students on their mobile phones. And to make sure that at recess and lunch, kids can actually socialise together.”

Child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, who co-authored a 2018 review into mobile use in NSW schools, welcomed the ban but said the government must now provide schools with laptops so children who previously used their phones to access the internet could continue do so.

“It is an equity issue – if you have students who don’t have access to a laptop that’s a problem for the taxpayer of NSW,” he said. “I don’t think it is unreasonable for schools to provide them with access to a laptop loan system.“

He said the laptops would use school Wi-Fi that restricts the use of online games and social media, which motivated the mobile ban in the first place.

Secondary Principals’ Council president Craig Petersen said the timeline to implement the ban was achievable. “Schools will need time to … update their school procedures,” he said.

with Christopher Harris

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