Christchurch school sees classroom culture shift overnight after new rule bans phones

When school started for the year at one Christchurch school, there was a major announcement — mobile phones were not allowed out.

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When Hillmorton High announced the new policy at the start of the year, it didn't go down too well with many pupils. Source: Seven Sharp

You can imagine that didn't go down too well with many pupils at Hillmorton High School.

But two months on, the results have been surprising.

Students are walking and talking into the school grounds, spending more time in the library and playing board games in what can be described as a time warp.

"The library has never been noisier. Sometimes it's a bit overwhelming but it's great because everybody's talking to each other," librarian Beth Clayton told Seven Sharp.

In February, the school joined others in banning the devices from classtime and intervals, but the students appear to be handling the transition well.

"I's good 'cause you can make new friends instead of being on social media all the time," one pupil said.

"It was hard at first, that sense of 'oh I have a notification' but I'm getting used to it now," another said.

One student even admitted she had a problem before.

"I realised that sometimes I am addicted to my phone."

Hillmorton High School principal Ann Brokenshire said the move comes after educators noticed students spending time on their phones, particularly during breaks when they'd rather them be active.

"Our vision here is that we really want to nurture our young people to become well-rounded and we were concerned that the lessons were being disrupted with getting notifications, even phone calls, during class.

"And two, we were concerned about their health and their wellbeing, that they were on phones rather than being active."

Brokenshire said the classroom culture had changed considerably overnight when the new rule first came in.

"Students are able to concentrate far better now on what they're doing in class."

Students can still bring their phones to school, but they're not allowed to use them during class and breaks or else they'll be confiscated.

The school is not anti-technology, but the computers on campus have blocked social media.