In a statement, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes said the new measures were taken following an expert review which showed rising cases of online bullying, inappropriate sharing of explicit images between students, predatory behaviour from strangers and unnecessary distraction for students.
Well-known child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg led the survey which received about 14,000 responses and 80 submissions.
“I’d like to particularly thank the many thousands of young people and their families who took the time and effort to make submissions, as well as the many experts in mental health, technology and cyber-safety who contributed to this report,” Dr Carr-Gregg said.
NSW is not the first location to introduce such a ban. France introduced a country-wide ban on mobiles from September, but across primary, junior and middle schools.
Under the French rule, the children are allowed to bring the devices to school but not allowed to take them out.
Government high schools would be allowed to decide whether they want to join the ban or the extent to which they would allow mobiles to be used.
“Distraction and bullying have always been issues for schools to deal with but mobile phones present a new challenge for schools, teachers, parents and students,” Berejiklian said.
“We want to ensure mobile phones and other smart devices complement students’ learning, and are handled at school in an age-appropriate way.”
“These changes will provide clear boundaries in our schools to ensure technology remains an enabler, not a detractor.”
Stokes said the review stopped short of recommending a ban on smart devices in high schools, but offered several approaches that schools could adopt based on their circumstances.
“We’ll work with schools to implement the changes recommended in the report, helping them manage the risks and rewards of using mobile phones inside the school gates,” he said.
“These changes are about keeping our schools safe and protecting the welfare of our students when they’re in our care.”