Phone-free education implemented at Woolgoolga High

The Yondr phone pouch program, which locks up students phones during the school day in an unlockable pouch, has been implemented at Woolgoolga High School to improve student learning and engagement. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

AN innovative phone pouch program which locks students mobile phones during the school day to allow students to focus more fully on their school learning and relearn how to socialise with their peers face to face has been implemented at Woolgoolga High School.

The Yondr Pouch Program was introduced into the school in February.

The program was implemented at Grafton High School, South Grafton High School and Toormina High School last year, and Maclean High School is implementing the program this month.

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Woolgoolga High School relieving principal Lu Nickell was behind implementing the new phone pouch system and said she had been encouraged by the effects of the system in other learning institutions, following a visit to Grafton High School last year to see the introduction of the system there.

“Even though mobile phones have some positives, we have found that learning and social behaviour improve drastically when students are fully engaged with their teachers and classmates,” Ms Nickell said.

A survey of 900 schools which implement the program to create phone-free educational environments found 65% of the schools saw an improvement in academic performance, 74% saw an improvement in student behaviour, and 83% saw an improvement in student engagement in the classroom.

The Yondr Program employs a simple, lockable pouch that stores a mobile phone.

All school students at Woolgoolga High School have been issued with a Yondr pouch, which they bring to school every day and secure their phone in when they arrive at school in the morning.

Students maintain possession of their phone throughout the school day, but are unable to unlock the Yondr phone pouch until the end of the school day at various unlocking stations positioned around the school.

School parents now contact the school office to send a message to their child, instead of messaging them or phoning them on their mobile phone.

Woolgoolga High School relieving deputy principal Kath Bear said phone use in class by students prior to the implementation of the new program had been a “significant” problem.

“Most classes, most days, it was often a point of argument between the teachers and student resulting in lost teaching and learning time due to student inability to self regulate their phone behaviours,” Ms Bear said.

Ms Bear said the implementation of the program at Woolgoolga High School has gone “very well”.

“Most students have responded very favourably, and many have simply decided to leave their phone at home,” Ms Bear said.

“Engagement in the classroom and the playground has improved significantly.”

A senior Year 11 student of the school stated, “In Home Group we all played trivia, in the past some students just wouldn’t get involved, it’s great now we all interact.”

 

By Emma DARBIN

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