He said it would not stop young people misusing social media in their spare time and it might make it tricker to use phones for learning.
“I’ve had a number of teachers come to me and talk about the particular applications that they use with mobile technology,” he said, such as students using their phones to photograph plants on the school grounds for a biology lesson.
“The policy isn’t saying that you can’t do that. However it is just a little more difficult when that teacher says ‘okay, you all have to bring your phones in tomorrow’,” he said.
Killalea said the school would consult with students and their families and was likely to suggest a policy that allowed students to keep their phones in their bags, but switched off.
South Wellington Intermediate School principal Toby Stokes said it banned mobile phones four years ago, so the government’s policy was nothing new for his school.
“The students walk in the door. They’re allowed their phones at school until the bell goes. Then they need to be locked up for safe-keeping and then they get given the phones back at the end of the day. If they are needed for classwork then they’re monitored but then put away again,” he said.
Stokes said a ban on phones was not hard to enforce and the school only encountered one or two students who desperately tried to hang on to their phones.
“We wanted our students to be active participants in their learning and active in the playground as well,” he said.
Secondary Principals Association president Vaughan Couillault said he expected most schools had started the year with policies that met the government’s requirements rather than trying to change their rules part-way through the year.
He said it might be difficult to enforce the policy during breaks and it could lead to problems if expensive phones were confiscated and subsequently lost or damaged.