Queensland’s school phone ban: Your questions answered, including when it will take effect

Queensland state school students will be banned from using mobile phones and smartwatches when classes begin next year.

Education Minister Grace Grace says the move builds on previous policy under which almost all state schools had imposed some kind of mobile phone ban.

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“This statewide ban will provide uniformity, extend bans to break times, and include certain wearable devices like smartwatches,” she said on Thursday night.

Grace said more than 95 per cent of schools had a clear policy banning phone use during class, with the remaining schools restricting usage informally.

Following the implementation of recommendations from the Anti-Cyberbullying 2018 Taskforce, all state schools have been required to outline how they manage mobile phones.

This includes in the context of cyberbullying and distractions in the classroom.

The Queensland government appointed former family and child commissioner Cheryl Vardon to review the current policy, with her report due later this month.

The Queensland government has announced phones will be banned in state schools. Credit: 7NEWS

But she has already advised one of the core recommendations is to implement statewide restrictions on access to mobile phones and certain other devices during school hours, with implementation depending on the school.

For example, a small school in the outback may require students to hand phones in to a nominated staff member, while a school with thousands of students may choose to use lockable pouches.

Grace said she would continue talks with other education ministers on producing consistent guidelines across states and territories.

Students will still be able to bring phones to school so they can contact parents or carers immediately before or after school.

Exemptions will also be available in specific circumstances including for health and wellbeing.

Minister’s statement

“From Term 1, 2024, mobile phones will need to be ‘away for the day’ in all Queensland state schools, building on the excellent work of our principals and school leaders to date,” Grace said.

“Under our existing policy, almost all our state schools have implemented some kind of ban on the use of mobile phones, and they have been fully supported to do so.

“We are always happy to take a fresh look at things: the progression of technology and proliferation of wearable electronic devices meant it was time to do a review, and I thank Ms Vardon for her ongoing work.

“I’ve met with Ms Vardon, and she has made clear recommendations to ban phones and certain wearable devices during school hours, and for an education campaign for families.

“Both of those things will happen, and the campaign will complement the extensive and nation-leading work we already do on cyberbullying.

“As has been the case for many years, principals who want to introduce or update bans before next year can do so.”

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