Solving playground problems

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Authored by

Jean Gross

Laura Fletcher at Wexham Court Primary School describes how she helped a group of boys learn the skills they need to resolve playground conflicts. She worked with Y2 ‘repeat offenders’, regularly involved in playground fights. “Some might say they just didn’t know how to behave”, she says, “but I believed there was a deeper underlying problem: a lack of social and emotional understanding combined with communication barriers.”

Laura met with the group for an hour a week over eight weeks, working on the oracy skills which the pupils lacked. Each week the skills built on each other so that by the final week, the students could apply all seven into a new playground game of their own.

First the group created a set of playground rules. They enjoyed this and even asked to have them printed on their classroom doors so they could remind themselves during playtime.

The rest of the sessions focused on a series of games to build on the children’s interactions with each other, understand the skill of turn-taking as well as listening and responding appropriately. Some involved role-playing familiar playground scenarios: ‘Someone takes a ball away from you during a game’ or ‘Someone wants to join in your game’ and others were games taken from Transform Teaching and Learning Through Talk (Gaunt & Stott, 2019) such as ‘Back to back’ and ‘Which emotion?’

Laura also incorporated scripted sentence stems to help structure the student’s language in their responses during a conflict. After the third week, one student asked to have their own pocket-sized copy of the script to use on the playground.

The results were impressive. The number of playground incidents dropped significantly for the group and for each individual student – from a total of 66 incidents in the month before the project, to 29 in the month after it ended.




Adapted from a case study for national oracy charity Voice21