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SA Govt open to banning mobile phones in schools

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The Marshall Government says it will consider whether to ban mobile phone use in SA public schools.

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Yesterday, the Victorian Government announced that from next year, state school students would not be allowed to use mobile phones between the opening and closing bell of the day.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said it was an attempt to minimise cyber bullying and distraction during class time.

SA Education Minister John Gardner said this morning that the Marshall Government would monitor the results of the ban and consider whether it should be emulated here.

“This is currently a local decision for principals in South Australia, and a number of schools have recently moved to an explicit mobile phone ban at all times during the school day,” he said in a statement.

“We will closely monitor the new arrangement in Victoria to inform us on whether a blanket approach has advantages over those local arrangements.

“We respect the autonomy of our principals to manage such issues and any decision on a blanket ban would be informed by consultation with schools.”

He added that school children are already expected to not use personal devices in the classroom so that they can focus on their learning.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said this morning that SA Labor would match the Victorian policy, under which students will only be able use their phones during school hours to monitor health conditions, or if a teacher instructs them to do so.

“We don’t think that technology should be acting as a barrier from children getting the best quality of education that’s possible,” Malinauskas told reporters at a press conference today.

“Banning the use of mobile phones in schools can go a long way to improving the level of concentration within the classroom, and also the retention of learning that we want all students to have.

“We also want to see kids, during the course of recess and lunch, getting out there and getting active, rather than spending the entirety of their time on their phones.”

Gardner accused Malinauskas of copying Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews.

“Peter Malinauskas can copy Dan Andrews’ homework all he likes, but the fact is we are already closely monitoring the impact of the New South Wales model around banning mobile phones in schools, which has been in place since the beginning of the year,” he said.

The SA Opposition Leader had told the press conference that: “This is a policy Labor has actually been working on for a number of weeks, and recently the shadow cabinet signed off on it.”

“On the back of the announcement from the Victorian State Government today, it’s appropriate that South Australian Labor should also announce its policy.”

Andrews was, himself, accused of copying the Victorian Liberal Opposition’s policy to ban the use of phones in school during class time, which it had announced early last year.

The New South Wales Liberal Government announced a ban on mobile phone use in state primary schools late last year.

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