In an attempt to combat cyber bullying and classroom distraction, cellphones will be banned from Victorian state primary and secondary schools in Australia from next year.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlin told the Sydney Morning Herald: "This will remove a major distraction from our classrooms, so that teachers can teach, and students can learn in a more focused, positive and supported environment."

From 2020, students will be required to switch off their phones and store them in lockers during school hours.

While many Victorian schools have already introduced their own phone bans, this is the first time a statewide ban has existed. Photo / Getty Images.
While many Victorian schools have already introduced their own phone bans, this is the first time a statewide ban has existed. Photo / Getty Images.

Only Year 13 students will be permitted to use their phones during lunchtime.

According to Merlin, the decision to ban phones will hopefully tackle the high rates of cyber bullying in schools after new research from Headspace found 53 per cent of young Australians had experienced cyber bullying.

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"All schools have a duty of care to provide a safe environment," he said.

Diocesan School for Girls in Epsom, Auckland, has banned cellphones for its junior students. Photo / File
Diocesan School for Girls in Epsom, Auckland, has banned cellphones for its junior students. Photo / File

Australia's decision follows France's call to ban children under 15 from using phones at school.

Exemptions will however be granted to students who use phones to monitor health conditions, or those who have been given permission from their teacher - in the instance that they require them for classroom activities.

Earlier this month Auckland's Diocesan School for Girls implemented a policy for its year 7 to 10 students of no cellphones during school hours, laptop use only when directed by the teacher and no headphones on school grounds.

The private school based in Epsom brought in the policy to encourage more social interactions and to try to alleviate some of the distraction and anxiety that social media use could cause.

Diocesan School for Girls has joined others around the country that have made moves to lessen exposure to mobile devices during school hours.

St Joseph's Māori Girls' College in Napier hit the top 10 for University Entrance in 2018, and put its success down to a strict regime, including a cellphone ban.

Several Rotorua schools also introduced bans on cellphones, with principals and students also reporting increased productivity and better social interactions.

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