Behaviour Support for Schools
Beacon School Support
Behaviour Support for Schools
Behaviour article

How to improve behaviour on the playground at lunchtimes.

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Over the past few months, we've been working with a lot of schools on developing ways to improve pupil's behaviour at lunchtime.

During a number of observations, we've noticed that many children simply don't know how to interact appropriately with each other on the playground. Teachers have reported a decline in co-operative play and an increase in squabbles and falling out that frequently spill over into precious learning time in the afternoons.

Many traditional playground games appear to have been lost to Xbox and PlayStation and some children are struggling to play interactively with others rather than engaging with a screen.

Here's one really powerful, yet simple, action that schools can take to address this issue.

A whole school approach

Our solution is to actively plan for and teach playground games to all of the children, across the school. This approach also includes teaching those same games to the staff who will be responsible for supervising them at lunchtime.

Actively take steps to improve your lunchtime provision by:

  • Agreeing which games will be taught and when (see staff meeting activity below).
  • Teaching the same game to every class across the school - for example, during one PE lesson at the start of each half term.
  • Making laminated rule cards and displaying them in the playground.
  • Holding regular assemblies to focus on teaching co-operation, turn taking, and problem solving, and explaining why we need to follow rules (lunchtime supervisors could be invited to join this assembly too).
  • Teaching Lunchtime Supervisors how to play and manage the games, encouraging them to look for (and praise) appropriate play.
  • Having a whole school push on looking for and acknowledging pupils who are playing co-operatively together and demonstrating the skills they have been taught.

Teaching pupils fun, easy games that they can play, will keep them more actively occupied during lunchtime and reduce the number of negative incidents that need to be dealt with. Not only will this lead to an improvement in their lunchtime experience, but their social interaction skills will benefit too – having a positive impact throughout the day.


As an added bonus, we've added two cards from our 'Playground Games Compendium' pack, to get you started.

So, what are you waiting for? Start improving your lunchtime provision today!

Staff meeting activity

This activity will take 15 minutes and will encourage all staff to collaboratively plan the teaching of playground games to their classes.


You will need the following materials:

  • Large sheets of paper and pens
  • Access to the internet / the facility to show this month’s newsletter video
  • A timer


Ask staff to sit in their phase groups for this activity. Explain that as a school you are going to teach children games that they can play in the playground to develop their social skills and positive interactions with each other.

First five minutes

In their teams, ask staff to brainstorm all the playground games they can think of. Discuss how each game is played, how many people can play, any equipment that is needed, what the rules are.

Second five minutes

In teams, identify the top 6 games that will work for your school. Cross off any that are too complicated or require too much equipment. Discuss what pupils will need to know to make the games run smoothly. As a whole staff, map out which games will be taught and when. You can use the grid below to help to plan. The first line has been completed for you as an example.

Third five minutes

List the skills that will need to be taught in circle times, assemblies etc. For example:

  • how do you ask to join a game?
  • what happens if someone is not following the rules?
  • what happens if someone doesn't want to play half way through?
  • how many people can play the game?
  • how should you react if you lose?
  • what about if you win?
  • what if someone cheats?
  • how can Lunchtime supervisors be involved and supported in this process?

The more that these skills can be discussed, role played and taught explicitly, the greater their impact and the more successful the games will be.

Remember to put up copies of the first page of the newsletter on display in the staffroom, so staff members can refer to it at a later date.

Name of game Date to be taught Assembly theme Skills to be taught in class
What's the Time Mr Wolf? w/b 5th Dec 2016 Following the rules Listening to others views
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