Ahead of the state-wide mobile phone ban at all schools in Victoria next year, the state government has set aside AU$12 million to help schools deliver storage solutions to securely store student mobile phones.

Each school will be able to apply for funding that can be used towards secure storage resources, such as purchasing or upgrading lockers or new padlocks for existing lockers, lockable pouches for schools that do not have lockers or sufficient space, or secure storage cupboards.

“We are making sure each school has the secure storage facilities that suit their needs ahead of the mobile phone ban starting in Term 1 next year,” Minister for Education James Merlino said.

“Banning mobile phones during school hours will not only mean students focus more on learning, it will also help kids interact more in the school yard and reduce cyber bullying.”

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From Term 1 2020, all students at Victorian primary and secondary schools will be required to turn off their mobile phones and store it during the school day. 

The Victorian government has labelled the decision as one that will help reduce distraction in the classroom and tackle cyber bullying.

The only exceptions to the ban will be where students use phones to monitor health conditions or where teachers instruct students to bring their phone for a specific classroom activity. 

In addition to the $12.4 million funding, the state government said from the start of Term 4 school communities will have access to detailed advice and resources to help prepare for the mobile phone ban next year.

The state-wide ban was praised by federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan, who said it would be “wonderful” if other states and territories followed Victoria’s lead.

“I think what we can’t get around is the impact that phones are having when they are used in the classroom. They are a distraction, they also — it’s very difficult for teachers to teach when they’re also trying to discipline against the constant use of mobile phones and particularly when we look at the impact phones are having when it comes to cyber bullying,” Tehan said in June.

“For all these reasons I think by far the most common sense approach is to say mobile phones cannot be during class times at schools.”

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