Dear parents, guardians and carers,
After significant independent research followed by consultation with our students, staff, parents, the Gympie SHS executive leadership team, and the wider community, we have made the decision that, in order to improve teaching and learning, both James Nash SHS and Gympie SHS will become mobile phone-free spaces in 2023. This will be achieved using a system called Yondr which has been implemented in over 1000 schools across 21 countries to facilitate an engaged learning environment.
We believe that phones can have great utility in the classroom and can provide interesting learning opportunities for students. That having been said, we have also found that they are a significant distraction for our students and that learning and social behaviour improve drastically when students are fully engaged with their teachers and classmates.
Healthed (https://www.healthed.com.au), an Australian organisation responsible for providing professional learning for healthcare professionals over the last 20 years, has identified five reasons as to why mobile phones should be banned from schools. These reasons are:
1. ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT
According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas and Louisiana State University, when schools forbid students from bringing their smartphones into the classroom, their grades quickly improve on the whole. Because students were subsequently more attentive in class, their test scores increased by an average of six percent. We’re not talking about younger kids, either. The results were most pronounced for high school students over the age of 16 who — not coincidentally — are the teenagers most addicted to their [mobile]
2. IT’S EVEN BETTER FOR AT-RISK STUDENTS
While most students seemed to get an educational bump when they were without their [mobile] phones in class, the difference was most pronounced among at-risk students. Students who live in poverty or attend special education classes or have subpar grades benefited approximately twice as much as their peers after ditching the technological distraction. By removing their phones from the classroom, it was the equivalent of adding an extra hour of class per week, a perk that most teachers could only dream of. Altogether, students lose almost a full week of school interacting with their phones rather than engaging in class.
3. CUTS DOWN ON-SCREEN TIME
Scientists continue to warn about the dangers of kids spending so much time in front of a screen. It’s normal for kids to spend about six hours per day in front of a screen — be it a computer, phone or television — and that’s not even including any screen time that occurs at school. One key way to ensure that students’ eyes and minds
receive a much-needed reprieve from so much screen staring is to minimise the amount that occurs at school. That starts with explicitly keeping smartphones from entering the classroom.
4. REDUCES CYBERBULLYING
Teens can be vicious with their online messages. While it’s difficult enough to police that sort of mean behaviour at night, at least some of that behaviour can be reduced by preventing kids from using social media during the school day. Kids should feel safe at school and not have to continually check their social media accounts to ensure that a peer isn’t posting cruel or harassing messages. While bullying is easier for teachers to spot — and subsequently intervene — when it plays out in real life, it is impossible to tell what students are communicating to each other silently on their phones.
5. THE EMERGENCY DEBATE
The main reason that parents advocate for their kids having phones in the classroom is that they want to be able to reach them in case of an emergency. In order for them to be able to receive that emergency message, however, they’d have to not only leave their phones on, but also check their phones constantly to ensure that they’d receive this message. Most likely, they’d be wading through many distracting, non-emergency messages throughout the school day on the chance that something important might get sent.
The Yondr program which we will be implementing utilises a simple, secure pouch that stores a phone. Commencing Term 1, 2023, every student will secure their phone in a personally assigned Yondr pouch when they arrive at school. Students will maintain possession of their phones and will not use them until their pouches are opened at the end of the school day. Students are required to bring their Yondr pouch to and from school each day and are responsible for their pouch at all times.
Yondr recently surveyed over 900 school partners to measure the effects of creating phone-free educational environments. These schools achieved notable progress in multiple areas, including:
- 65% of schools saw an improvement in academic performance
- 74% of schools saw an improvement in student behaviour
- 83% of schools saw an improvement in student engagement in the classroom.
In this effort to best serve your child, we appreciate your full support of these changes and the adoption of the Yondr program at our school. So you are aware, before the commencement of school next year, the updated mobile phone policy will be finalised and shared with the school community. Until then, please read the Yondr FAQs.pdf section on our website to better understand how the process will work and to find answers to your queries.
As always, feel free to contact the school directly at (07) 5480 6333 or via email for further information.
Alana Scott & Ystyn Francis
PRINCIPAL (Acting) and DEPUTY PRINCIPAL – STUDENT SUPPORT (respectively)