Phones Away for the Day

The government has introduced new regulations requiring schools to restrict students’ cellphone access.  

The law requires that schools ensure students do not use or access a phone while attending school, including during lunchtime and breaks. Please find Rutherford College’s rules and expectations below. If you have comments or feedback, please feel free to contact the school.  

We have attempted to balance the benefits of modern technology and the need to communicate efficiently and effectively with the new law.  

We expect students’ phones to be away for the day, meaning phones either do not come with the student to school (recommended) or are switched off or placed in flight mode for the day. Eliminating cellphones from classroom environments frees students from the distraction of notifications and social media interruptions, allowing them to engage more deeply with lesson content. 

Cellphone away for the day rules:

  • Cellphones, earphones, earbuds, music players and similar devices must be turned off and safely stored in your bag or locker at all times, including intervals/lunchtimes, except where use is authorized by staff for curriculum purposes. 
  • Phones will not be used by students on site between 8:50 am and 3:10 pm (exit bell for the day signals the use of mobile phones for students). 
  • If phones are brought to school, they must be turned off and kept in a student’s own school bag. 

Procedures and Consequences

If cellphones or cellphone accessories are visible or being used during the class time without specific teacher instruction for a learning activity, the following consequences will be applied:  

  1. First instance: The student will be reminded and told to put the cellphone or accessory away in their bag. 
  2. Second instance, or if the student refuses to put the cellphone or accessory away in their bag: Staff will confiscate the phone for the period and record it as digital misuse in our Student Management System 
  3. Escalation/Defiance. The Dean will contact home and go through the pastoral process with the student regarding it as a ‘Major’ incident. This could include confiscation which may involve the cellphone being released only to caregivers in conjunction with punitive measures as appropriate.   

Exemptions to Cellphone Rules and Procedures

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. 

If cellphones are used for a learning activity, this will be at the teacher's discretion following our in-class procedures and the phone's use will be supervised by a staff member. 

Procedures for Supporting Students to Comply with Cellphones Away for the Day Rules 

  • Teachers will remind students of the cellphone rules at the start of every lesson.  
  • Teachers will remind students to store their phones in their school bag. 
  • If cellphones need to be used for a learning activity, this will be at the teacher’s discretion. Cellphone usage will be supervised.  
  • Joining in lunchtime clubs and activities will be encouraged. Sports equipment is available from the Sports Office.  
  • Students should take their bags and cellphones if they leave class for an appointment or if there is an emergency.  

Contacting Your Son or Daughter During the School Day  

If a parent or caregiver needs to contact their child urgently during the school day, please call the Office on 09 834 9790. The school has student runners and staff who will ensure emergency messages are passed on promptly.  

Frequently asked questions

What if a parent/caregiver needs to contact their child during the school day? 

We understand that some parents like their children to have a phone to communicate with them after school, so students will be able to use their cell phones after school. If a parent or caregiver needs to contact their child urgently during the day, they should call the office or contact their child via their school email address.

How can a student check their timetable without their phone? 

Students can check their timetable on their laptop/chromebook by going to This page should be bookmarked for easy access.  

What if a student refuses to put their cell phone away in their bag when requested by a teacher? 

Teachers will follow the above procedures: 

Can a student use their cell phone between classes or during break times?

The national education directive is that cell phones are not to be used during break times from Term 2 of 2024.  

Can a student use their cell phone after 3:10pm on school property?


When can a student use their cell phone in class?

A teacher will need to state specifically that cell phones may be used for a learning activity before students can get their cell phone out of their bag (teacher will also flip the cell phone poster to ‘Phones Out, Ready to Use’). Using a cell phone during this time for an unpermitted activity will result in the teacher applying the procedures listed above. 
Can a student use their cell phone to take a picture or video in class?

The teacher will need to specifically state that cell phones can be used for recording. Photos and video are an important tool for recording project progress, capturing notes for study, producing creative work or other relevant learning tasks. Privacy of other students and staff must be respected and permission sought from them before capturing their image or voice. 

Can a student use their cell phone to listen to music?

No. There may be some exceptions to this under the direction of the teacher for curriculum purposes. Students should remove all headphones and earbuds when staff are addressing the class or there is group work occurring.

Can a student use their cell phone to the high school wifi? 

Yes, students can connect their cell phone to the high school wifi using their same username and password as for their laptop. This is so students can use learning apps and upload work such as photos and videos to the google drive under the direction of their teacher. Social media and gaming sites are blocked on the school wifi. 

Can a student use their cell phone for an education outside the classroom (EOTC) activities?

The same classroom rules around cell phone use apply to EOTC activities. EOTC activities provide fantastic opportunities for learning in new situations and for developing important social connections. Student cell phone use, particularly social media and gaming, diminish the ability of students to make the most of these activities. The teacher in charge of the EOTC activity should outline when and for what purpose cell phones can be used - if at all. Teachers will take into consideration health and safety, learning activities and the purpose of the trip when outlining appropriate cell phone use (if any) on EOTC activities.

Can a student use their cell phone if their laptop battery dies, or they don't have their laptop with them? 

No. Cell phones cannot be used for regular classroom activities such as writing on google docs or accessing the internet for research. If a student's laptop won't keep a charge for the day, the student should bring a charger to school.  

Can a student use their headphones to block out the noise of the class so they can concentrate on my work? 

No. There are some learners whose learning support plan involves the use of headphones under the direction of the teacher. These students have permission cards from Student Support for this purpose. 

Can a student use their cellphone during tutor time?


What if a student’s phone starts ringing in their bag during class?

Students are not allowed to answer their phones in class. Students should take the phone out and turn it off and place it back in their bag. Parents who need to contact their child during the school day need to either email their child or phone the school office.

How do students get a medical or emergency exemption to use their cell phone in class? 

Students who need to use their cell phone for medical or other purposes should approach their tutor teacher who will contact the deans to apply for an exemption so the student can use their cell phone for that purpose only. 

Can a student use their cell phone as a hotspot to their laptop? 

No. Laptops should only be connected to the high school wifi when at school.