Mobile phones banned at SA public high schools, but AI like ChatGPT allowed

Mobile phones banned at SA public high schools, but AI like ChatGPT allowed

South Australian students will begin returning to school tomorrow, but for many the first day of school will also be the first without their mobile phone.

A ban on mobile phone use in public high schools begins at 44 sites tomorrow, with all schools needing to transition to the new state government policy by the beginning of term three.

The state government hopes the reform will help curb bullying and violence as well as reduce distractions in the classroom.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said the changes will bring SA in line with other states.

It also brings high schools in line with South Australian primary schools, which have a mobile phone ban.

“It is my firm view that mobile phones do not have a place in the classroom or in schools,” he said.

“They act as a distraction to students but at their worst, mobile phones can be used for purposes that aren’t consistent with who we are as the South Australian community.”

A man and a young girl stand next to a black locking box. The girl holds a phone in a grey pouch
Blair Boyer and Seaview High School student Jess at one of the school’s phone-locking stations. (ABC News: Evelyn Manfield)

At Seaview High School, in Adelaide’s south, every student will be given a lockable pouch to store their phones, smart watches and earphones during the school day.

The pouch will be locked by tapping it on one of 22 locking stations around the perimeter of the school, and unlocked the same way at the end of the day.

Principal Penny Tranter said teachers will do a “random check” of the pouches in the morning to ensure they were locked.

Education Minister Blair Boyer said the choice to buy such pouches — which cost Seaview High $30,000 — was up to individual schools, and the department would consider supporting schools who require financial assistance to implement them.

“We’re confident that whether or not it’s storing them in a bag, locking them in a locker or using these pouches, it can be effective,” he said.

A pair of hands hold a phone being placed into a grey pouch
Students at Seaview High will have their phones locked inside a pouch during the school day.(ABC News: Evelyn Manfield)

SA schools to allow artificial intelligence programs

While phones will be banned, South Australian public school students will be allowed to use artificial intelligence (AI) such as ChatGPT — but not for graded work.

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