Otago Boys’ bans phones

Do you remember the days of the old school yard, when we used to scroll Twitter at lunchtime?

Otago Boys’ High School rector Richard Hall hopes those will not be the memories his pupils take away from school.

Pupils are now banned from using their phones during lunch and interval and will face consequences if they are caught using them.

Mr Hall said the move was inspired by the results of the Built Environment and Active Transport to School (Beats) study, which tracked the movement and health of Dunedin school pupils.

Last year, the study collected data from 120 pupils from Otago Boys’ High School and found most pupils spent more than five hours a day on screens outside school time.

By removing phones, pupils could lower their overall screen time and have more opportunity to get on the sports field at lunch time and be active, Mr Hall said.

The rules would only change one hour of the school day, as phones were already not allowed in the classroom.

The school taking a firm stance would mean pupils would be discouraged from checking their phones between and during classes.

Pupils caught using their phones would have them confiscated until the end of the day.

Parents would be contacted if offences continued.

Laptops were learning devices and pupils were still welcome to bring theirs to school and use the internet, but phones were not designed for learning.

With the widespread use of technology, people were expected to be contactable instantly, Mr Hall said.

He hoped that by removing phones, pupils’ need for that instant communication would lessen and they would instead focus on building relationships face-to-face.

Parents who had to contact their children would still be able to do so through the school office.

He believed in the long term pupils would enjoy and value their time at school more without their phones.

Head boy Isaac Ottrey said there would be boys who would find the new policy tough, but hopefully adapting would take no longer than a few weeks.

"I think deep down the boys know it’s good for them."

Waitaki Girls’ High School implemented a lunchtime phone ban for its pupils in years 9-11 at the start of last year and principal Liz Koni said the results had been "overwhelmingly positive".

Pupils had been reluctant to embrace the policy, but they settled in quickly.

Both teachers and pupils reported fewer distractions in the classroom and teachers no longer had to manage social media-related incidents that happened throughout the school day.

Pupils who needed to access learning tools or apps could still do so using a laptop.

There had been very few downsides, she said.

"Having a few more students at the office needing to contact home throughout the day is a small price to pay for the benefits that a cellphone-free school day brings."

-- wyatt.ryder@odt.co.nz



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Good to see some common sense prevailing here, this should be a compulsory all schools policy.

And where does that leave the school if a student receives an alert from the "Covid" tracing app ??

Everyone is being asked to sign in and keep the app on as an early warning system should a person come into close contact with a known "Covid" case, banning phones just means there's going to be a delay in any student ... I assume the staff won't be under the same phone ban ... not being made aware they could be infected, should get tested and self isolate until results are in. And the app isn't available on laptops as far as I'm aware, so it's not just a case of social media v learning, mobile phones are now an early warning system for all.

I'd say the school may be walking into a legal minefield given some of the mandates by government, human rights, and the ever present "Covid" crisis ... not sure whether I'd want my child put in a position where he couldn't receive a warning, especially considering the consequences if he did test "positive" at a later date and had infected 1/2 the school ... something to think about in these times maybe.

I went through primary and secondary school without the need for a mobile phone. I still do not have one. Communication is done through verbal speech. Parents do not. need to know what their child is doing while at school. If there is an emergency then the school will notify parents the same way they did years ago, and the same for any changes in Covid. Mobile phones must be the rudest invention ever.

Yes concerned. A Grand daughter in Chch was alerted to a possible COVID exposure by a text in class. She had to leave school immediately.

They've been doing this at Cromwell College for two years now. Kids weren't too keen to start with, but doesn't bother them at all now.

If my child requires a phone, for whatever reason, or I simply want my child to have a phone, for whatever reason, they will have a phone, end of story. No school directive is going to change that.

The intent of the BEATS STUDY (Built Environment and Active Transport to Schoo) was to get kids to do just that- bus, walk, cycle etc to school. These grown-up kids still get 'dropped off' by mum & dad or they drive there themselves. Cell phones have nothing to do with it.

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