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Phone pouches ring in change at school

By Makalia Degoumois

Phone pouches have made an appearance at our high schools, with both Willyama High and Broken Hill High opting for the lockable cases which keep students’ hands off the mobile devices during class time.

The portable cases, called Yondr pouches, lock cell phones away during the school day.

Scott Mateer, a teacher at Willyama High school says, “the school introduced Yondr pouches for two main reasons.

To reduce distractions in the classroom and to reduce the incidence of anti-social behaviour using a device, such as conflict or threats using social media.”

Since the pouches have been in use, the schools have been collecting feedback data through staff and student surveys as well as collating wellbeing data from the Sentral school management system, to see how useful the pouches are and to highlight advantages and disadvantages in their use.

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Each student receives their own pouch, which has a magnetic lock on top.

All entrances to the school have a special magnet, that gets locked and covered during the day.

A teacher checks each student’s pouch during morning roll call, and students are expected to place their phones in the pouch and lock them.

Students keep their phones in their pouches throughout the day, and at the end of the day, they tap their pouches on the magnet to unlock their phones and take their pouches home.

“Teachers are extremely satisfied with the classroom environment that has been created since the implementation of Yondr pouches,” says Mr Mateer.

The teacher survey revealed that the phone pouches have improved a number of things, including increased focus in class, increased class discussion, fewer fights with students about their phones, and a more positive atmosphere.

Additionally, 60% of teachers said it had created five or more minutes of learning time because less time is being spent on behaviour correction, and student cooperation has been high, with many teachers noting they haven’t seen a single phone in class for weeks.

Sixteen-year-old, Willyama High School student, Katelyn Ralph, says, “it’s easier to focus in class because I’m not tempted by my phone, and it will actually push me to do my work.”

“The disadvantages stem from not being able to access a device that, when used appropriately, can be a wonderful tool in the modern world,” Mr Mateer says.

“We are exploring solutions to the issues raised in the student survey.

For example, we are in the process of researching Casio calculator software to be installed on all student’s laptops. We would also like to start working with the SRC to address the issue of boredom at recess and lunch, and workshop ways to overcome this.

“We have worked with a number of students to address their individual concerns and encourage all students to discuss their concerns if they are having any difficulties,” says Mr Mateer.

According to the student survey carried out at Willyama HS, some students feel they are less distracted, their concentration has improved, there is less drama and bullying, and friend groups are talking more.

The survey also showed it can be difficult at recess and lunch not having many activities to do, some students feel anxious without their phones, and find it challenging not being able to contact parents or work, and they miss not being able to use phones for music, cameras, calculators, and more.

Students are required to have phone pouches from Years 7 through 12.

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