Mobile phones at school

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There are rules about using mobile phones and other devices like smartwatches at public schools in South Australia. 

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Mobile phones in schools

The rules on mobile phone use at school are different depending on whether you go to a public government school or a private school. If you go to a private school, scroll down for some more information about the rules that apply to you.  

What are the rules?

Public school students are allowed to bring their phones to school, but they must keep their phone and other personal electronic devices off and away all day while at school, and while on school excursions and camps. This means that you are not allowed to use your phone at break times, such as recess and lunch.  

Your teacher may allow you to use your phone for a learning activity in the classroom. However, if your teacher has not expressly told you that you can use your phone, you must keep your phone turned off and stored away. 

Can I bring my phone to school?

You are allowed to bring your phone to school, but you are not allowed to use it during the school day.  

Your school may encourage you not to bring a phone to school unless you need it to travel to and from school, to contact your part-time employer outside of school hours, or if you have been granted permission to use your phone.  

Where do I need to store my phone during the school day?

Your school will decide where you need to store your phone and personal devices while at school. For example, you may be required to hand your phone in at your school’s office or to your teacher at the start of the school day, or you may be required to store your phone in your school bag or locker. 

Before storing your devices, including smart watches, you will need to turn them off or place them on flight mode.  

What if I need my phone?

If you need your phone, your school may allow you to use it for a specific purpose. You need to have the approval of the school principal before you can use it.  

The principal may allow you to use your phone if you need it to:  

  • monitor or manage a medical condition 
  • help you with any disability or learning difficulty 
  • help with translation if English is not your first language 
  • help with any personal circumstances that require you to have access to your device, such as being the main carer for younger siblings. 

If you want an exemption, it’s a good idea to find out your school policy on how to request it. You can also think about whether you need any evidence to support your application (for example, a letter from a doctor or a family member). 

It can also be a good idea to talk to a family member or a teacher you trust about why you need an exemption, so they can support you with this process. 

If you think the school has treated you unfairly, you can contact us for advice. For more information about discrimination at school, check out our webpage. 

What happens if I use my phone at school without permission?

Each school should have its own policies about what can happen if you break school rules. You can also check out our webpages on: 

Can the school take my phone away?

Your school can confiscate your phone if you use it without permission. Your phone may be kept by the school staff for short periods of time for instances of less-serious misuse. Less serious misuse includes using your phone or causing disruption in class. In these situations, the school would need to return your phone to you or your parent at the end of the same school day.  

Your school cannot keep your phone for an extended period unless advised by the South Australian Police. If you seriously misuse your phone, such as to film an unlawful event like an assault, your school is required to contact the South Australian Police.  

A teacher cannot use force to confiscate a device from you. However, if you refuse to hand over your phone, you will be disciplined by the school for breaking your school’s rules.  

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