Yondr pouches, lockup bags for students’ mobile phones, have been a resounding success at Yass High School in reducing online bullying and unnecessary distraction.

First trialled in Australia in 2019, Yondr pouches have spread like wildfire to keep students focused and engaged in the classroom.

Before students enter the school grounds, they turn off their phones or put them on silent and unlock their pouches on one of five unlocking stations on the fence.

The phones are put in the Yondr pouches and stay locked until the students leave.

In the afternoons Yass High opens the unlocking stations and students tap the pouches magnet to open it and access their phone.

Principle Linda Langton said it’s had a massive difference this year.

“Reports of unkind behaviour and inappropriate messaging have really, really dropped down,” she said. “You rarely hear that sort of thing anymore.”

“The kids are noisier in the playground because they’re talking to each other and they’re playing with each other.”

Linda said handball has had a bit of a resurgence this year since the Yondr program has been in place and the oval is usually packed.

“It’s had a lot of positive effects,” she said. “The conflict in the classroom with teachers and inappropriate use of devices that’s really reduced too.”

“That’s really helped kids to keep a focus on their learning, to fully engage with the lesson.”

“We want them to do well, and we know they can.”

There were only a handful of people with concerns but Linda said the community has been very supportive and the students have been largely compliant.

“For our kids who are quite connected to their technology, as all teenagers are, we were expecting some pushback but had very little.”

Linda said when they touched base with children who had issues with cyberbullying in the past, the students said it was easier this year.

New parents bringing in their young families for enrolment also liked Yass High’s no phones at school policy Linda said.

“We have a nice structure in place,” she said. “It’s a reminder of their responsibility and that’s how we manage it respectfully like that.”

By Brianna O’Rourke