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Onehunga Primary School

Our aim was to see if our concerns were echoed by the parent community and the students themselves, and to draw suggestions from them for making improvements in the behaviour of our students across the school.

Aim/Focus: Ethos and organisation

  • To increase the level of students’ social responsibility across the school, focusing on students understanding their own levels of behaviour and giving them
    a tool to monitor themselves.


The current behaviour plan of the school was not having the desired impact where it was needed most. There was a three-step plan, but it seemed to have little effect on a number of recidivist offenders. These students often had little support from their families, or their families were also at a loss about how to deal with their children’s behaviour.

A lot of the aggression shown by the students pointed to a lack of self-respect and self-esteem. We saw that this could be addressed, particularly in the playground, by developing the students’ understanding of how they worked together and related, providing guidance through a 'games-centred' approach.

Process undertaken

Lead Teachers were identified within each syndicate and took part in workshops led by Team Solutions and the Regional Sports Trust.

In workshops involving theory-based sessions, we held learning conversations and looked at different behavioural models, and discussed how these could be best implemented and used effectively in our school.

The other component was a practical element, in which various aspects of the physical education (PE) curriculum were explored and different ways of implementing programmes were experienced by the whole staff. The focus was always on how to promote positive relationships.

As a team, we decided to adopt the behavioural model developed by Don Hellison, a Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Illinois.

We gathered data from many different sources, including parents and caregivers, students and staff, through surveys, interviews, and videoing playground and classroom behaviour. Our aim was to see if our concerns were echoed by the parent community and the students themselves, and to draw suggestions from them for making improvements in the behaviour of our students across the school.

Full value contracts were developed by classes, in which the students and teachers discussed some basic outlines for how they expected learning to look in their classroom when all things were going well. If things were not going to everyone’s satisfaction, then the contract was referred to for guidelines for the students to use to get back on track, without there having to be too much teacher intervention. This helped the students become more in control of their behaviour and to form an understanding that, to be successful in tasks, they need to have the required form of cooperation with and understanding for each other.

Teachers generally found that the model gave them something tangible to work with across the school. It was something the whole school could relate to, whether the student was in year 0 or year 6, and nearly all students were conversant with it. This enabled relationships between teacher and student to improve. Teachers referred to the model when they came across students with difficulties. The model was used to improve a situation by identifying the level of behaviour needed, which was then negotiated with the student, and both agreed on the action to be followed.


To help teachers fully integrate the model, a comprehensive timetable was developed. Teachers were paired with someone else in their syndicate (as a buddy) to support each other using the model in their PE lessons. Modelling by Team Solutions facilitators and the School Community Physical Activity Project (SCPAP) team occurred, as well as peer support in the form of observation and critiquing of lessons.

Sharing learning intentions with the students made the lessons more focused, manageable, and enjoyable. Students became more aware of themselves and their physical learning. We were able to see the transfer of this learning in activities in the playground, and in the attitudes and behaviour of students who participated in teams that represented the school.


We had great support in the form of Team Solutions and Sport Auckland facilitators, who provided professional development at staff meetings and also modelled lessons and supported teachers in small clusters.

New equipment was purchased because more was needed, but no specialised equipment was needed to teach the fundamental skills. We bought a range of throwing equipment, such as beanbags and spiky balls, which proved more suitable for younger and less able students to achieve success.


Across the school, there has been a noticeable change in behaviour and attitude among the majority of the students.

Students themselves talk about the model and identify the kind of behaviour they (or someone else is displaying), which helps them to self-regulate without teacher intervention, so they are taking ownership of their actions and empowering them.

Teachers have found that using a model has given them something tangible that students across the school can identify with, and it has helped them deal with issues, particularly in the playground. By alluding to the model, students are able to identify their own behaviour and diffuse what were previously sometimes volatile exchanges between teachers and students who otherwise had little interaction.


An earlier introduction of the model to teachers and more talk about its use and the ideas behind it would have promoted wider understanding; it took a long time for some teachers to really understand it. Once teachers and students had a good understanding of the model and how to integrate it into teaching and learning, the model became a very powerful behaviour management tool. The model was discussed regularly at syndicate and staff meetings, enabling teachers to have the opportunity to reflect on their use of it and its implications within their class.

Each area of the school used the model slightly differently. For example, the junior teachers used one to two key words to describe each level, while the seniors were expected to have a more in-depth understanding of each level.

Hellison’s model has had a very positive effect on both the overall behaviour of the students and on increasing their levels of social responsibility inside and outside the classroom. There are also improved relationships across the school at all levels.