Use of cell phones and gadgets at school

Girls’ College believes that a disciplined learning environment is the first requirement of a high performing school. The implementation of rules governing the use of cell phones, tablets, computers and gadgets will help minimize disruptive behaviour, maximise their potential for supporting learning and help to maintain high academic standards. The movement towards embracing the use of cell phones by students begins with educating students on proper use of phones at school. This policy also allows for teachers to embrace cell phones as an instructional tool. Teachers who have elected to use cell phones in their daily lessons say that their students are actively engaged and more attentive than they typically are. A Smartphone can be a powerful educational tool and has the ability to provide students with so much information in an instant that teachers cannot deny that they enhance learning in the classroom.

The following sets out our comprehensive policy regarding electronic communication devices, and the use of Social Media and applies to all forms of mobile phones, devices, tablets and laptops.

Guidance for Students Bringing Devices to School

Girls’ College encourages students to bring an appropriate electronic communication device to use alongside traditional learning mediums for academic studies.  As we are all aware however, the use of electronic devices extends far beyond the academic learning environment.  Much of this is positive and even necessary in today’s society.  The potential for devices and Social Media in particular, to distract, disrupt and injure students and teachers means there is a need for strict and stringent control over the use of technology. We have a grave responsibility to train students in appropriate, healthy, and courteous use of technology. 

Pupils are not required to have a mobile phone or gadget in school and we support parents who make the decision that this is not necessary by ensuring that pupils are able to use school computers for research and the school landlines to contact parents in an emergency. Parents can also contact the school via the landline. This policy does, however, recognise that the majority of our pupils do own a mobile phone.

Any pupil who brings a mobile phone into school does so at their own risk and the school will not be held responsible for any loss or damage.  Parents are encouraged to insure these devices and students are responsible for the installation and maintenance of anti-virus software to protect their devices.  Students may not borrow or share these items with other students and must ensure they remain in their physical possession, be locked away safely, or, when in hostel, be given to a matron to be locked up. Students must not leave devices unattended and out in the open during breaks, mealtimes, during extra-curricular activities, in the dorms, or at any other time.  Cell phones are personal items; stealing a cell phone is viewed as a criminal offence.

Use of devices at the school
  • Mobile devices are to be used for educational purposes only during school time.
  • Mobile phones are not allowed to be used in the classroom UNLESS EXPRESSLEY DIRECTED BY THE TEACHER. If mobile devices are required as a teaching/learning tool then the teacher will pre-book and use the school’s resources or give permission for mobile phones to be used (this permission will only be for that actual single period and cannot be used as permission in other lessons).  At all other times, mobile devices should be locked away or placed on the desk in clear view of the teacher and turned off.
  • Pupils cannot use a mobile phone or device in an exam – even as a calculator (as per exam board regulations) whether the exam is an internal exam or a public exam. Mobile phones will be collected by exam invigilators prior to every exam and kept safely locked away until the exam finishes. Pupils must always hand their phone in during an exam or leave it at home.  Pupils found with any such gadgets will be disqualified.
  • Students are not allowed to use head phones at any time during the academic day, headphones are a distraction from study, anti-social and at times a safety hazard.
  • At no time during the academic day are pupil permitted to take photos or film in or out of the classroom on a personal phone UNLESS EXPRESSLEY DIRECTED TO BY THE TEACHER.
  • The school will load approved electronic-books to student’s devices to replace printed text books where appropriate.
  • Use of cell phones during school functions is prohibited.  Cell phones should remain switched off during sports and all official activities.
  • At no time while on school premises are pupils permitted to create, send, access, share or view material of a sexual, violent, explicit, offensive or obscene nature.
  • Student devices may be subjected to “spot” checks, and if there has been any violation of general school policies, disciplinary action will be taken.
Uses of devices in hostel
  • Compulsory collection of ALL devices by Matrons will occur just prior to lights out each evening except for Friday and Saturday nights.  They can be returned after breakfast the following morning, in time for use at school.  Form Ones and Twos will not automatically be given their devices.  They will need to prove that they are needed in a lesson that day.  We have found the younger students particularly irresponsible with their time with regards to electronic devices. 
  • When electronic communication devices are given to a Matron or a member of the Girls’ College staff for safe-keeping, neither Girls’ College nor the Girls’ College employee shall be liable for the possible loss or damage of the electronic communications device, the risk of which at all times rests with the student.  It is only in instances of wilful default on the part of a Girls’ College employee that Girls’ College will be liable for any claims for damages of loss or damage of the electronic communications device. 
Social Media Policy

Girls’ College recognises that social media can be a very useful and integral mechanism of communication, marketing and socialising in education.  To ensure the responsible use of social media Girls’ College encourages and expects that its staff, students and parents use social media in adherence with appropriate and acceptable practises governing such use.  While Girls’ College champions the right to free speech, it also recognises the obligation to ensure that communications are lawful and do not cause harm to third parties. 

Girls’ College employees, students and their parents, using any social media platform that may in any manner link such use with Girls’ College, shall:   

  • Not use the Girls’ College logo or any other information which may link the user to Girls’ College without the prior written consent of the Head. 
  • Adhere to the terms and conditions governing communications on any social media platforms that they may use;   
  • Not communicate unsolicited communications of whatever nature; 
  • Not post content that may be used for any unlawful purposes or in the furtherance of illegal activities;   
  • Not post any person’s private information (including video records, photographs or images of the person) of whatever nature, without the prior written consent of the person;   
  • Not post any inappropriate or offensive material or obscene or pornographic images;   
  • Not post any communication or image which may be defamatory or violates the personal rights of any party;   
  • Not post any communication which is offensive, threatening, abusive, bullying, harassing, harmful or hateful;   
  • Not post any communication which violates the intellectual property rights of third parties;   
  • Not post information detrimental or harmful to Girls’ College or any of its employees;   
  • Not post information detrimental or harmful to any learners or the parents of learners at Girls’ College.
Consequences of failing to adhere to this Policy

Students found in violation of this policy will have their mobile phone or device confiscated. Should a cell phone be confiscated from a student for whatever reason, the student will have the phone confiscated for one day for the first offence.  On second offence the phone will be confiscated for one week. On third offence the phone will be confiscated for a month. Beyond this the offender will not be allowed to bring a mobile phone or device to school.

For more serious offences, such as cyber bullying, viewing or sharing inappropriate material, engaging in illegal activities or theft of a device, will be dealt with separately within the guidelines of the School’s “Levels of Misdemeanors”.

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