Min­is­ter flags mo­bile phone ban for schools

The West Australian - - FRONT PAGE - Bethany Hi­att Ed­u­ca­tion Edi­tor

Mo­bile phones could be banned from class­rooms if Fed­eral Educ­tion Min­is­ter Dan Te­han gets his way.

“If mo­bile phones are dis­tract­ing stu­dents in the class­room, then teach­ers should be em­pow­ered to con­duct a class with­out them,” Mr Te­han says in a speech to be de­liv­ered to­day.

WA schools make their own poli­cies on mo­bile phones in class. Many have re­stric­tions on phones in school hours.

Mr Te­han urges com­mon sense on a range of is­sues to pro­duce bet­ter stu­dents’ re­sults and at­ten­dance rates. “We must look at im­prov­ing ev­ery as­pect of our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem,” he says.

He aims to de­velop a na­tional dec­la­ra­tion on ed­u­ca­tional goals.

‘If mo­bile phones are dis­tract­ing stu­dents . . . then teach­ers should be em­pow­ered to con­duct a class with­out them.’ Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Dan Te­han

Fed­eral Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Dan Te­han has flagged whether mo­bile phones should be banned from class­rooms as part of a na­tional push to im­prove stu­dents’ re­sults.

In a speech to be de­liv­ered at an ed­u­ca­tion con­fer­ence to­day, Mr Te­han will urge ed­u­ca­tors to “re­dis­cover some com­mon sense” on school­ing is­sues, in­clud­ing mo­bile phone use.

“If mo­bile phones are dis­tract­ing stu­dents in the class­room, then teach­ers should be em­pow­ered to con­duct a class with­out them,” he will say.

“There is a time and place for tech­nol­ogy in ed­u­ca­tion and surely we can all agree on that.”

In WA, each school sets its own mo­bile phones pol­icy, with many re­strict­ing use dur­ing school hours.

Mr Te­han’s speech, to be de­liv­ered at the Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity’s con­fer­ence on pre­par­ing young peo­ple for ed­u­ca­tion be­yond Year 12, also urges a com­mon­sense fo­cus on in­creas­ing school at­ten­dance rates and giv­ing stu­dent teach­ers more time in the class­room as part of their train­ing.

And he will urge uni­ver­si­ties to en­force pre­req­ui­site Year 12 sub­jects, such as maths, for cer­tain de­gree cour­ses.

“Uni­ver­si­ties must be lead­ers and clearly com­mu­ni­cate to school stu­dents the re­al­ity of univer­sity de­grees,” Mr Te­han says. “For ex­am­ple, to be a suc­cess­ful engi­neer you need to have stud­ied math­e­mat­ics.”

He will tell the con­fer­ence that he will seek agree­ment from State and Ter­ri­tory ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ters this week to up­date the 2008 Mel­bourne dec­la­ra­tion on ed­u­ca­tional goals for Aus­tralian chil­dren.

Mr Te­han will also call for in­put from par­ents, teach­ers and stu­dents to de­velop a new dec­la­ra­tion as a “doc­u­ment for the whole na­tion”. “We must look at im­prov­ing ev­ery as­pect of our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem,” he says.

Mr Te­han com­mends a NSW de­ci­sion to in­tro­duce a char­ter for State schools re­in­forc­ing the im­por­tance of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and re­spect and says it is wor­thy of ex­am­i­na­tion by other States.

Un­der the char­ter, par­ents are ex­pected to show re­spect when talk­ing to teach­ers and to use email and so­cial me­dia ap­pro­pri­ately, while schools are ex­pected to pro­vide timely and clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

“I don’t ex­pect that you can sim­ply cut and paste the NSW School Com­mu­nity Char­ter into Vic­to­ria or WA,” he says.

“But it’s worth ask­ing the ques­tion — can we pro­vide the frame­work and the tools for schools and school sys­tems to de­velop their own school char­ters that share uni­ver­sal as­pi­ra­tions while ac­knowl­edg­ing lo­cal, unique cir­cum­stances?”

Mr Te­han ac­knowl­edges teach­ers’ com­plaints that the cur­ricu­lum is over­crowded and says he will ask COAG’s ed­u­ca­tion coun­cil to con­sider if it needs to be re­viewed.

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