Exemptions to the ‘Phones Away for the Day’ Policy

April 8, 2024

A young student is using her phone in class.

A young student is using her phone in class.

The Government has recently introduced regulations requiring that all state schools and kura have rules in place to ensure that students do not use or access their personal phone while they are at school, including during lunchtime and breaks.

Schools must have these new rules in place by the beginning of Term 2 2024, although they are encouraged to implement the rules earlier where it is possible to do so. The new rules aim to support students’ learning by minimising opportunities for distraction or cyber-bullying.

However, some whānau are concerned that the rules raise equity issues for neurodivergent students who may rely on tools available on their phone to support their learning.  

The regulations state that students must be allowed to access their phone where such access will help the student with a disability or learning support need (for example, assisting with communication). However, because schools have flexibility in how they implement the policy, it is up to each individual school to decide what procedures they want to put in place for agreeing and managing exemptions.

This means that whānau who would like their child to be exempt from the rules will need to work with their school to get an exemption in place.  

Parent to Parent have put together an excellent booklet about advocating for your child’s right to education, and you may find the strategies detailed in that booklet helpful as you work with your school to get an exemption in place. It is important to be as specific as possible in your requests; that is, explain clearly to the school what barriers your child faces in the school environment, and how access to their phone helps them overcome these barriers. If you would like information about how access to a phone might help your child overcome specific challenges, you are welcome to request a free personalised information pack from us.

This article also contains some suggestions about the various ways technology can assist learning.   


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