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Mobile phone ban in Orange high schools backed by MP Phil Donato

March 26, 2023

Stock image,

By Peter Holmes

The re-elected MP for Orange, independent Phil Donato, is backing the new Labor state government's policy to rid school classrooms of the scourge of mobile phones.

Labor premier Chris Minns has said the use of mobile phones in schools is distracting students from learning.

The ban - for state schools only - is expected to be introduced this year.

Donato told The Orange News Examiner he backed Labor's plan, saying any policy that made it easier for students to focus on their work was worth supporting.

Phil Donato (left) back mobile phone ban in schools such as Calare Public School, where he was campaigning on election day with Tony Mileto and Heather Dunn. Copyright: Orange News Examiner..

In its policy documents ahead of the election on Saturday (March 25, 2023) Labor said it would "ban mobile phones from all NSW public schools".

"A Minns Labor Government will restrict the use of mobile phones in NSW public high school classrooms to improve students’ learning and social development," it said.

"NSW Labor will also conduct a review into the impact of technology on children and young people and will develop digital media literacy programs with a focus on online ethical behaviours, data privacy and critical thinking skills."

Labor said the mobile phone policy would replicate "similar initiatives" in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, which restrict the use of mobile phones, smart watches, tablets and headphones, unless students are under the instruction of a staff member.

"Education outcomes in NSW have been declining over the past decade, with NSW now ranked 23rd in reading, 31st in maths and 23rd in science compared to other countries in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) rankings. In 2006, NSW was effectively ranked 6th in reading, 9th in maths and 3rd in science."

Labor said there would be exemptions for students with special circumstances, "such as needing to monitor a health condition, or when under the direct instruction of a teacher for educational purposes or with teacher permission for a specified purpose such as for language translation and communication".

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