Phones away, students play

Students at Te Awamutu Intermediate have noticed little difference since the coalition government banned cellphones in schools last month.

They have been handing their phones in at the start of the school day for ages and getting them back at the end, said principal Pip Mears.

Photo by George Dolgikh.

Under new government rules introduced on April 29, schools must ensure students do not use or access a phone while attending school.

There are exemptions, such as when a phone is needed for health reasons.

“Teachers, at times, may allow students to use their phones during the school day as a tool to assist learning in a supervised way,” she said.

Phones, like other information technology devices, could be useful learning tools.

Te Awamutu Intermediate Principal, Pip Mears.

“Parents and caregivers also appreciate being able to communicate information with their child at the end of the school day,” she said.

“Teaching students to use their phone and other devices effectively and responsibly are important aspects of learning in this day and age.”

Students having their phones at school had rarely caused any issues, “however, we do find ourselves having to manage an array of situations arising from the misuse of social media platforms on phones and other devices used outside of school hours from time to time”, she said.

The school had shared and would continue to share information with parents and caregivers to help support children to use devices responsibly.

Cambridge Middle School had also had a “phone away for the day” policy for many years, principal Daryl Gibbs said.

“For us it’s always been that way, so it seems strange that it’s such a big focus for the government, but I guess at a high school level it’s having a positive impact from some of the principals I talk to,” he said.

We also asked Te Awamutu and Ōtorohanga colleges for comment but they did not do so before our deadline.

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