Lunchtimes and playtimes can often be the spark for challenging behaviour in schools - and resolving those issues can often spill over into lesson time. So how can we encourage positive behaviour from all our students at break time?
In this essentials episode, Tim Davies shares practical steps and strategies (and cost-effective solutions) for making this happen in your school... and the positive impact you'll see on behaviour and relationships as a result.
Click here for the full interview from episode 6.
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Show notes / transcription
Tim Davies 0:00
The introductions of things like den building were incredible. We took it off the back of doing one of the National Days den building. And that just gave children the creativity to build whatever they wanted to roleplay in different areas instead of this historic, our football is what happens on the playground. We then just get into the creativity, the same with actually some of the other arts and games. We start off with children not knowing how to play traditional board games. By the end, they are the ones that are teaching the children how to engage with these games as well. So it's just being able to have children experience things that they might not necessarily experience outside of school life.
Simon Currigan 0:42
Welcome to the school behaviour secrets podcast. I'm your host, Simon Currigan. My co host is Emma Shackleton and we're obsessed with helping teachers, school leaders, parents, and of course students. When classroom behaviour gets in the way of success. We're going to share the tried and tested secrets to classroom management, behavioural special needs power school strategy, and more all with the aim of helping your students reach their true potential. Plus, we'll be letting you eavesdrop on our conversations with thought leaders from around the world. So you'll get to hear their latest evidence based strategies before anyone else. This is the school behaviour secrets podcast. Hi there, Simon Currigan here and welcome to another essentials episode of school behaviour secrets, where I share with you one important strategy or insight from an earlier interview episode that can have an impact for the students that you work with in your school or classroom. In this essentials episode, I'm going to share a section of my interview with Tim Davies Tim's the learning mentor at Conway primary school and he talked to me about what he was introducing a common way to enhance playtime and lunchtimes. So the more engaging, and the practical steps he took involved in creating systems and an environment that leads to successful break times, without having to break the budget at all, with the benefit of improving behaviour in school. Here's the part of the episode where he talks about some of the changes that he had implemented, and the impact these had had on children's behaviour at playtime. And during lunch. Now, you've changed outside environment quite considerably. Can you tell us what kinds of changes you made. And I'm not just thinking here about the physical environment, but also what kind of systems you've got in place.
Tim Davies 2:29
The playground is quite raw, we have made improvements physically with like fake grass, there had to be a lot of changes and the outside environment. So talking about what we provided, and the normal would be, it was zoned off into lots of different areas. So just using cones that we actually had in the school building, and we'd zone off for specific activities. So we'd have football or hockey, basketball, cricket, we introduced the friendship zone, then equipped play leaders with games and activities and equipment, as many things as we could so that they could expand using their little workbooks, to be able to make sure that they had games and activities for people to engage with. We also expanded into the school building. So sections for reading or art, board games, as well as specific homework groups. As for making this happen, there would have to be a lot of investment with Dennis supervisors, first of all get to grow their confidence and engagement in their zones, specifically within the rotors, they would rotate every half term. So we didn't have members of staff just becoming experts at one little thing.
Simon Currigan 3:38
That sounds like a more sort of proactive role than they were doing in the past. How did you find that affected the relationships between the kids and the adults? Yeah, there
Tim Davies 3:46
were positive straightaway. So alongside of insects, we invested with the supervisors with the beacon successful supervisors training that gave them a lot more confidence and consistency. So that actually, children wouldn't necessarily be running to the one or two members of staff that were dealing with behaviour, but they would be going to the person who was closest to them. And that was really key. There was some dinner supervisors that would just love it on certain rotations. So you get a lot more engagement and positivity from
Simon Currigan 4:14
so that improve relationships. Yeah, what kind of activities did you find that the students engaged in the most?
Tim Davies 4:19
The introductions of things like den building, were incredible. We took it off the back of doing one of the National Days den building, and that just gave children the creativity to build whatever they wanted to roleplay in different areas instead of this historic out football is what happens on the playground. We then just get into the creativity, the same with actually some of the other arts and games. We start off with children not knowing how to play traditional board games. By the end they are the ones that are teaching the children how to engage with these games as well. So it's just being able to have children experience things that they might not necessary. Under the experience outside of school life,
Simon Currigan 5:02
then building sounds very cost effective. When people think about changing the environment, often they're thinking about putting in climbing frames or specific players that are really expensive. But the things you're talking about seem very financially accessible
Tim Davies 5:16
is really vital to just look at what we had resource wise and look at these zones and go right, what activities have we got? What provisions have we got? How can we utilise these zones that children can engage them that we're not having to spend lots of money. So it was really important when building the zones to make sure that not only the staff knew what was happening in each zone, but then actually educating the children and educating that they should move away from this idea that football is the only thing that you can do outside to then having the children running out on the playground? And then telling you Oh, it's Thursday. That means I've got hockey in this area.
Simon Currigan 5:53
How did you do that? Was that something you did solely outside? Or was that something that you prepared them for inside with the teachers? What was your approach?
Tim Davies 5:59
First of all, it had to be the staff had to get their buy in until they got their heads around it it was then being able to communicate it the children. So obviously, through assemblies, through the dinner Hall, when they're queuing up for their food displays, just clarifying the different activities and different areas. And obviously, just being able to use the older children as the wants to update the younger children with what's happening, and especially with play leaders as well.
Simon Currigan 6:26
So on a daily basis, as the person who's coordinating this, what kind of practical steps do you have to take to make playtime and lunchtime successful at call my primary
Tim Davies 6:35
first would be making sure you've got your full staff in obviously, when there were changes of attendance for staff, then obviously, that had an impact to the provision, then it was just the practical and making sure people in place communication is really important. So we would have radios because you can't imagine everyone can see each other or speak to each other, and then making sure resources are still in place.
Simon Currigan 6:58
So you've been through a big change, you put in all these zones, or these different kinds of activities to engage the kids, what has been the impact on behaviour at playtime and lunchtime.
Tim Davies 7:08
At the same time as investing in the lunchtime supervisors, the senior leaders of the school we're reviewing the behaviour policy. And within my role, I've been able to support children with interventions where behaviour may have escalated to extreme, but to be able to provide clarity of escalation within the school system and phase leaders and class teachers, that's really helped bring consistency for the children. So actually, we don't have the opinion or approach of one individual. But we've got that unity was just helped provide clarity to every member of staff of the escalation process as to see what the first engagement should be with the children. If you're looking for consistency, children are just the same as adults, they want to know they're being treated fairly, not differently to anybody else. Initially, we would then think behaviour had escalated, then private to the science because we had this way of recording and impacting behaviour rather than just going unseen and noticed. But then once children have now got this knowledge about how to repair a problem. So for me, the interaction is really important when people reach the word sorry, instead of just going sorry, that's the end of it great move on carry on playing, there needs to be more of an interaction.
Simon Currigan 8:29
So it sounds like the mixture of sort of guided conversations and repeating those conversations over time. That's kind of improved the kids social skills and their empathy. Is that right?
Tim Davies 8:39
Yes, it takes time can feel like a hard slog at the start. Because you're thinking actually I've got to deal with all these behaviours, I've got this not script, but this pattern to flow through in your mind to be able to bring that consistency, children then know where you're going, if they are repeat offenders, and that they can start answering the questions and pre-empting what they need to do to resolve the problem. Children are very, very quick to be able to resolve these problems themselves.
Simon Currigan 9:07
How have your new systems impacted on engagement apply to my lunchtime how has it affected the incidence of low level behaviour,
Tim Davies 9:15
a lot of the low level behaviour is recorded. It's not resulted in consequences other than maybe timeouts for a few minutes. But then once the children have experienced that a few times, they're like it has just improved that family feel to go you know what we are all still Conway family we are still Conway children.
Simon Currigan 9:33
And that was Tim Davies talking about practical ideas and strategies for transforming play times and lunchtimes at school. If you want to hear more, head back to Episode Six, I'll put a direct link in the episode description. And if you've enjoyed listening today, do please remember to rate and review us It takes just 30 seconds and when you do it prompts the algorithm to recommend school behaviour secrets to other listeners. And that helps us grow up Podcast and reach other teachers, school leaders and parents with these ideas. And while you've got your podcast app open, remember to hit subscribe so you never miss another episode. Thanks for listening today and I look forward to seeing you next time on school behaviour secrets.
(This automated transcript may not be 100% accurate.)