Mobile Phone, Recording Devices and Internet Policy

 Introduction

St Mel’s College, Longford recognises that it is a student’s right to have a mobile phone and we acknowledge the positive aspects of this. Nonetheless, this right cannot compromise or disrupt teaching and learning. Urgent phone calls to or from a student will ALWAYS be facilitated through the office. There are potential dangers for the school community (pupils, parents, visitors, staff, coaches, teaching staff, management, trustees) stemming from the misuse and abuse of electronic media. As a result, the school will rigorously endeavour to protect the personal dignity and right to privacy of all the members of the school community. In the light of the recent findings from the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding the detrimental effect of the use of Mobile Phones by teenagers on their long-term health, St. Mel’s College will endeavour to protect students from the harmful use of these devices during school hours.

Rationale

  • The use of mobile phones has increased dramatically in the last number of years.
  • Mobile Phones can be a great benefit to students when used appropriately.
  • Mobile Phones can distract from Teaching and Learning when used in an inappropriate manner, i.e. if they ring or used during class time.
  • Mobile Phones can be a cause of difficulty in schools when/if mobile phones are used in ‘cyber bullying’, where students/teachers are photographed against their will, where some recordings/video recordings are made against the will of those featured etc.
  • Mobile Phones are often mislaid or taken by other students.
  • Mobile Phones can be a major distraction to students in the classroom, on the corridor/ in the bathrooms, causing isolation rather than interaction and integration of students.

Aims

  • To optimise teaching and learning situations for students.
  • To reduce the possible distractions of students, academic years.
  • To provide an environment free from threat or invasion of privacy while students/teaches are in the school.
  • To discourage cyber bullying among students in the school.
  • To encourage interaction and communication between students.

Rule:

The misuse of mobile phones, electronic recording devices, or the internet is a serious breach of the School Discipline Code. All mobile phones are to be switched off and out of sight on the school grounds during school hours.

  • This includes the period of time each student is ON THE SCHOOL GROUNDS before commencement of the first class, during lunch and after the last class of the day.
  • While off the school premises, but on school business (games, field trips and school tours etc.) mobile phones must be switched off. However, if it is necessary for the student to contact his parent/guardian, then permission to turn on a mobile phone must be sought from the supervising teacher. The phone must be turned off again at the conclusion of the conversation. The supervising teacher will ensure that this has happened.

Definitions:

  • Switched off mean does not mean ‘Silent’, ‘Meeting’ or any similar mode. The phone must be POWERED OFF.

Policy Sanctions

  • Student found in contravention of this rule will have the phone and SIM cards confiscated. A text will be sent to parent/guardian that the phone has been confiscated. The phone will be kept for one week from the date it was confiscated. The phone will be kept by the school for two weeks on subsequent confiscations.
  • A student should ensure his phone is powered off and SIM card included before being surrendered to the teacher.
  • The name of the student and other relevant details will be recorded. The mobile phone and SIM card will be kept locked up until such time as it is returned/parent has collected it.
  • A student who refuses to surrender a phone found in his possession, which is not turned off, will be considered to have committed a serious breach of the School Discipline Code.

Misuse of Mobile Phones:

  • An incident where mobile phones are used to bully or harass a member of the school community is a serious breach of the school Discipline Code and will be dealt with accordingly.
  • In such cases the phone will be confiscated at the principal’s discretion. It should be noted it is an offence to use a mobile phone to menace, harass or offend another person. As such, the school may consider it appropriate to involve the Gardaí in such incident. The principal may invoke the schools Code of Behaviour and impose sanctions up to and including suspension.
  • The school accepts no responsibility for damage to or loss of the phone.

The management and staff of St. Mel’s College are appreciative of the students’ parents’ ongoing support of our efforts to maintain and foster the positive use of technology in a caring and safe learning environment.

Recording Devices and Internet: mobile phones with cameras and recording capabilities; multi-media recording devices (audio and visual):

The internet is an excellent educational tool and the school encourages its use. The school encourages parents/guardians, pupils and teachers to be informed of internet safety and best practice.

WHILE ON SCHOOL PREMISES OR WHEN OFF THE PREMISES ON AUTHORISED SCHOOL BUSINESS (e.g. games, field trips etc.):

  1. Students must ensure that recording devices are SWITCHED OFF AT ALL TIMES.
  2. Photographs cannot be taken, nor can recordings (audio or visual) be made, of a member of the school community with his/her expressed permission and the permission of the school Principal/Deputy Principal. Using phones or any other recording devices to record a person with all appropriate authorisation, will be considered a serious breach of the School Discipline Code.
  3. Students will observe good ‘netiquette’ (i.e. etiquette on the internet) in their representation of and comments on members of the school community and about the school itself. (Refer to Safe Use Policy)
  4. Students will not upload, download, send or forward any material on the internet that is obscene, defamatory or intended to annoy or harass a member of the school community.
  5. No photographs of, nor recordings (audio or visual) of, or comments about a member of the school community can be uploaded to the internet without his/her express permission of the school Principal.
  6. Instances where the internet is used to insult, offend, slander, defame, harass or bully a member of the school community by another member of the school community is a serious offence and will be treated accordingly. Any student who uses the internet as a vehicle to insult, offend, harass or bully another student or teacher will be deemed to have committed a serious breach of the School Discipline Code and the school will have recourse to the range of sanctions available. The school may consider it appropriate to involve the Gardaí in such instances.

Serious breaches of the School Code of Discipline will be dealt with by the appropriate Year Head, and/or the Deputy Principal/Principal and may be reported to the Board of Management. The use of mobile phones in State Examinations is prohibited. Candidates using mobile phones as calculators etc., are liable to have their examinations cancelled and possibly barred from all public examinations in this state.