Labor to limit smart phones in NSW schools

·2-min read

Students' access to mobile phones will be restricted in NSW public schools if a Labor government is elected next year.

Opposition Leader Chris Minns wants to limit the use of phones in public high school classrooms to improve learning and social development.

"As a parent of three children myself, I'm worried about the impact of phones and devices on our kids," he said on Monday.

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

The mobile phone policy would mirror those in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia restricting their use along with smart watches, tablets and headphones unless students are under the instruction of staff.

Mr Minns says education outcomes in NSW have been declining over the past decade, with the state now ranked 23rd in reading, 31st in maths and 23rd in science compared to other countries in the Programme for International Student Assessment rankings.

Currently, students from kindergarten to year six are not permitted to have mobile phones in their possession during the school day.

Under the proposed policy, high school students would have their phones turned off during school hours and kept out of sight until the end of the school day.

"Limiting phone use in schools will help cut distractions, deal with cyberbullying and help students catch up academically," Mr Minns said.

"This will help teachers to teach and students to learn in a focused and supportive environment."

Seven in every 10 NSW public schools already had bans in place, Premier Dominic Perrottet said.

In circumstances where they were required or desired, the education department worked with schools.

"The reality is kids should not be on phones at school, they should be focused on work and that's what we generally have in our state," Mr Perrottet told reporters on Monday.