As I indicated in my last blog this term we are seeking community feedback on a range of issues, policies and planning ideas. The recent parent and student reference group discussions that look at future building and renovation needs of the College highlighted some wonderful ideas and visions for the schools. Now our focus is on our response to Mobile phones.

Mobile phones will be banned for all students at Victorian state primary and secondary schools from Term 1 2020, to help reduce distraction, tackle cyber bullying and improve learning outcomes for students.

As an independent school, Bayview College is able to develop and implement our own policies. As such we are seeking the opinion of our community in order to formulate our response to this issue.

Teachers, parents, students and experts are divided on this debate. In announcing his decision, Victorian Education Minister, James Merlino stated “This will remove a major distraction from our classrooms, so that teachers can teach, and students can learn in a more focused, positive and supported environment.”

Neil Selwyn, a professor at Monash University has said said that while banning phones from classrooms, and from school altogether, might seem sensible, there are number of reasons to be cautious.

“It’s clear we need to carefully consider how we want to make use of digital devices being brought into schools. But previous experience, such as in New York, suggests a blanket ban might introduce even more problems,” Dr Selwyn wrote in The Conversation.

“Research suggests there is a large overlap between cyberbullying and traditional forms of bullying, which wouldn’t then follow that digital devices are somehow causing these behaviours.”

Dr Selwyn also noted that cyberbullying also often takes place outside school hours and premises and warned that banning phones from classrooms might distract teachers from having to continue with efforts to address the more immediate causes of cyberbullying.

Finnish educator, author and scholar, Pasi Sahlberg, shares similar concerns.

“Most of ‘screen time’ takes place outside of school and simply taking the gadgets away from kids in school would not help, especially it is not a good idea for those who suffer from screens the most,” Sahlberg told The Educator.

This issue, he explained, is best handled in close collaboration with children and their parents.

“We need to educate them about the advantages of technology and risks related to heavy use of it. We need to work with parents to set the limits how smartphones, games and media is used at homes and in schools,” he said.

The Australian Secondary Principals Association (ASPA) president, Andrew Pierpoint, says that decisions on smartphone policy need to respond to individual school communities, “to work out what’s right for their community.”

As such I invite all families to have in depth discussions their sons and daughters about phone usage and the impact of them at school. We really want to hear the opinions of parents and guardians on this matter. Please complete the short survey by clicking the link below. I encourage you to complete by August 7. Following this consultation process we will review our policy and practice to meet the needs of our College.

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