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Western Heights Primary School

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Students are happier and attitude/behaviour has improved due to the teachers' involvement in the games.

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Aim/Focus: Co-curricular

  • To create a physically active environment during break time that is self-sustainable.

Background

Contributing (years 1–6); School roll – 350

We see a need for our students to be more physically active. Boredom in the playground is creating behaviour issues.

There is a desire to make the school grounds more aesthetically pleasing.

We noted a lack of physical activity (PA) outside of school hours.

Process undertaken

Phases/Steps

  • Break bins (2006): The School Community Physical Activity Project (SCPAP) team met with the Active Schools Facilitator (ASF) and discussed concerns being raised and looked at possible solutions. Large wheelie bins for junior and senior schools (age appropriate) were put out during break times. Students were responsible for ensuring the bins were out and that all equipment was accounted for.
  • Prefect-organised games (2006): Twelve students attended Dynamo training with Sport Bay of Plenty. Subsequently, the students implemented games during break times.
  • In 2007, the prefects again attempted to implement games during break times, with some teacher direction.
  • Jump Jam (term 3, 2006 and term 4, 2007): Jump Jam CDs were bought and used each day as a whole-school lunchtime event.
  • Sports equipment (2006 and 2007): Regular purchasing of sports equipment for classrooms. To promote ownership, students were involved in the selection of equipment.
  • Painted games (term 2, 2007): A painter was employed to paint a variety of age-appropriate games outside particular classrooms around the school for students to use during break times.
  • Teacher-organised playtime games (term 3, 2007): The duty roster was changed to include two sports duties, with games scheduled on a fortnightly cycle and ranging in ability. Teachers participate and organise.

Outcomes

  • Break bins: Teacher-driven, lack of student ownership, equipment often lost/stolen, financially not viable.
  • Prefect-organised games: Not enough teacher support, the students participating needed to learn to listen to a student leader, the behaviour of the participants was a concern, and only having a prefect present meant problems escalated.
  • Jump Jam: Hugely successful for a long period, but the cost of the CDs was too high and the students lost interest when they became bored with the same songs.
  • Sports equipment: Students did not respect the equipment and it was often lost, or arguments resulted in behaviour problems.
  • Painted games: So far, these games are used with good effect. Games go in and out of fashion with the students. The games have enhanced the PA look of the school and the students responded well to the use of vibrant colours. The games also created a visual aid for students to think about PA in their own time.
  • Teacher-organised games: These have proved to be the best approach so far (although still in early stages). Students are keen to be involved in these games and are excited to participate. The number of behaviour problems has decreased significantly. Smaller problems are now dealt with before they escalate. Some teachers have found the extra duty an issue, while others have seen the benefits, such as students coming back to class relaxed, happy, and ready for work.

Reflection

We have found the teacher-led games to be the most successful. Students are happier and attitudes/behaviour have improved due to the teachers' involvement in the games. Problems that usually happen after break are nearly all gone. If a problem does happen, the teacher is there and can take action before it escalates.

The students began playing the games in large numbers, but a few months later the participation has dropped. The students still enjoy the games, although the novelty has slightly worn off.

Jump Jam was included to the playtime games as a result of many students not having hats during term 4. Our policy states that all students should have a hat, or play in a shaded area. We have had to teach new songs and dances to keep the students’ interest. At this stage, Jump Jam averages 50–60 students.

Some teachers found the extra duty difficult on top of an already large workload. Teachers have slowly come around to the idea, as they see the benefits. Changing the 'behaviour barometer' was also proving to be a problem, as many teachers were forgetting and therefore the students missed out on the reward at the end of the week.

Next steps

We would like to see our school prefects taking over responsibility from the teacher in the playground. This would mean upskilling both the prefects and the students playing the games. We will begin having students help the teachers on duty to change the 'behaviour barometer'.


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