News / Community / Education / 22nd July 2020
Coona High embraces phone free zone
Coonabarabran High School adopted a new policy at the start of term three, with students now restricted on using mobile phones during school hours.
In January this year, a new policy governing student use of digital devices and online services came into force in all NSW public schools.
Under the new policy, digital devices are restricted in primary schools, while secondary schools were given autonomy to opt into the restriction or implement an approach that best suits their circumstances.
Coonabarabran High School principal, Mary Doolan, said staff had been concerned about the negative impact of smart phones on student learning and wellbeing for some time.
“We strongly felt that we had to carve out the space for our students to have some device-free time at school,” Ms Doolan said.
“We do, of course, use technology in the classroom, but our previous rule of phones having to be off and away during class was not working.
“Phones were also a corrosive force on the playground in many instances.”
Consultation with parents, carers and students commenced in term one, and despite the interruption of COVID-19, the policy was finalised at the end of term two.
Students are asked not to bring phones or non- educational digital devices to school.
Students who repeatedly (more than three times in a year) bring a mobile phone or non-educational digital device to school will have it confiscated until the student’s parents/carers can attend a meeting to discuss the breach of school procedure.
Some exemptions to this rule apply, including valid medical conditions.
Ms Doolan said now that the new procedure was in place, parents and carers could play a powerful role by affirming the key rationale for the policy change - to build a culture of learning and reduce anti-social behaviour.
“We are encouraging students to leave their phones at home, or if they need it after school they can voluntarily hand their phone into the office for safe keeping as soon as they arrive to school and have it returned at 3.30pm,” she said.
“Strong alignment between school and home will support the bedding down of this change.”
Although only in the initial stages of the new policy, there had been a noticeable shift on campus.
Ms Doolan said several staff had already commented that it was nice to see more heads turned in conversation on the playground, rather than bent over screens.
“I am confident this is going to be a true positive for our school.
“Coona High is a great school, but no community is perfect and our hope is that the space created by this digital detox will make our school a calmer, gentler and more focused learning community.”