Phones away for the day

Find advice and guidance to support your school or kura to implement student phone rules.

Level of compliance Main audience Other

Required

  • Boards
  • Principals and tumuaki
  • Teachers and kaiako
  • Parents, caregivers and whānau

Summary

This page provides phased guidance on how to develop and implement student phone rules. These rules are intended to support and improve ākonga | student engagement and achievement.

The Government has introduced regulations that require all state schools and kura to have student phone rules in use. Rules must be in use as soon as possible in Term 1 2024 and no later than Term 2.

If your school or kura has existing student phone rules there may be little to do except ensure your rules reflect the new regulations. Other schools and kura will need to begin the process of implementing new phone rules in your school community.

There is some flexibility in how you implement the rules based on your school’s circumstances and the needs of your learners and their whānau | families. For example, exemptions may occur where ākonga | student requires a phone to support their health or learning needs.

When you can expect more information 

This page will be continuously updated as new information becomes available. We initially provided examples of rules so you could start thinking about what this might look like in your context.

This page has been updated now the regulations have been published, including guidance to support implementation of your rules and key messages you can use to communicate with your communities. 

During Term 1 2024, we will add resources to support the embedding of your rules, such as editable posters or graphics.

Implementing phone rules 

This guidance is structured to support schools to step through the process of implementing student phone rules.

Implementing student phone rules [PDF, 207 KB]

We have also developed some frequently asked questions for schools, which may support your implementation process. 

Phones away for the day – School's frequently asked questions [PDF, 198 KB]

What must be in your school rules 

The regulations require that schools must ensure students do not use or access a phone while they are attending school, including during lunch time and breaks. This includes students who are on a school course or visit outside the school grounds.

This must be in effect no later than the start of Term 2, 29 April 2024.

Schools must allow students to use or access a phone when:

  • a phone is needed for health reasons (for example, to monitor insulin levels); or
  • a phone is needed to help a student with a disability or learning support need (for example, to assist with impaired communication); or
  • a teacher requires students to use phones for a specific educational task or purpose (for example, for a class assignment); or
  • the principal decides that they are needed for special circumstances (for example, the student is a teenage parent).

Schools and kura that have rules in place 

Many schools and kura have existing student phone rules in place.

You will just need to update your rules to reflect the new regulations and consult on any changes with your school community. 

Schools and kura implementing new rules 

If your school or kura does not yet have student phone rules, you will need to consult with your school community as per your board's usual practice.  

We have provided examples of rules and some consultation information below to help you develop rules that work for your setting. 

Examples of rules

These examples are based on existing rules that have been implemented in schools. You can adapt them to suit your context.  

Community consultation 

Under section 126 of the Education and Training Act 2020, your board must consult your school community when considering making a new school rule or making a significant change to an existing school rule. This includes implementing student phone rules at your school or kura.  

In consulting with your community, you may include details such as how your school will:

  • store or keep phones safe 
  • respond to breaches of rules
  • manage exemptions 
  • update and review your rules.

Consultation will help identify any concerns ākonga and your community may have so you can work together to address these. 

Consultation support

Consultation guidance is available in the recently published Te Whakangārahu Ngātahi toolkit on school planning and reporting.

The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) also offers consultation support. 

Advice and support – NZSTA(external link)

Consulting your school community – NZSTA(external link) 

Guidance around board bylaws – NZSTA(external link) 

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