Outside the classroom
Classrooms are highly structured environments with clear rules and routines and the visible presence of a teacher. Outside this ordered environment, many of the predictable classroom conditions change. Moving through other parts of the school and transitioning from classroom to playground presents a new set of considerations for supervision, organisation and expectations of student behaviour.
Planning and preparation are key to successful activities outside the classroom.
On the playground
The playground is an important learning environment for students. A well-structured and properly equipped playground can promote pro-social behaviours that are beneficial for social competence and for cognitive development.
The way spaces are organised and used can either encourage or discourage positive student behaviour and interactions. Anti-social behaviour in the playground can be minimised by having clear and well communicated expectations and ensuring all areas are well supervised.
It is important to involve students and staff in identifying any playground issues that require attention and determining any possible improvements. Visit the NSW anti-bullying website for ideas about developing safer playground environments.
Components of effective playground supervision
For staff, being observant and responsive on the playground is essential whether you are ‘on duty’ or just passing through. It is important to consistently practise:
- active movement and visibility around the grounds
- listening to and acknowledging student concerns
- proactive intervention to avoid potential problems
- positive interactions with students
- regular acknowledgement of appropriate play
- checking for the correct use of play equipment
- encouragement for keeping a clean, safe environment
- regular reminders to students about the expectations, rules and responsibilities
- fair and consistent implementation of school policies.
In the wider community
Positive interactions in the local community can provide an extension of the connectedness found in the family setting. As well as offering infrastructure and shared amenities such as parks, playgrounds, community centres, pre-schools, churches and sporting fields, the wider community also provides help and support through health and wellbeing services, cultural connections and opportunities for involvement in local events.
Community service projects and field trips can improve student wellbeing and learning, especially when the theme is related to curriculum content. Including parents, community organisations and local experts in programs for students has been shown to have a positive effect on behaviour. Activities in the wider community provide real-life opportunities to develop social-emotional skills in:
Miranda Public School
Miranda Public School offers a wide range of activities to engage with their local community including a shopping program for special needs students, a drumbeat program and a vibrant sensory room, encouraging student collaboration and imaginative play. Innovative and successful links with the local high school see Year 9 students effectively supporting a fluency program.
Lithgow High School
At Lithgow High School’s ‘Wellbeing Hub’, students with a variety of needs are supported by community sector providers including occupational therapists, mental health services and social workers. The hubs’ location within the school allows ease of access for individuals and groups.
Examples of school projects outside the classroom
Blue Haven Public School: With their focus on instructional leadership, explicit teaching, student wellbeing, community partnerships and other evidence-based practices, Blue Haven Public School has achieved rapid and substantial improvements in student academic performance.
Belmore Boys High School: To promote a positive school climate, improve wellbeing and the school’s physical environment, staff and students worked together to develop a school gardening program.
Homebush West Public School: With a strong emphasis on preparing its students for transition to secondary school, this case study looks at the establishment of a middle school where Year 5 and Year 6 students are introduced to secondary school structures and routines in preparation for the high school environment.
Sir Joseph Banks High School: Programs to promote leadership and engagement include a two year program for girls: Empowerment, Motivation and Mentoring Sisterhood (GEMMS) program, and a program for Year 9 boys: Mateship, Masculinity and Mentoring (MMM) program.
Thomas Reddall High School: The Boys 2 Men program focuses on leadership, wellbeing and life skills for boys from Years 10-12.
Whalan Public School: Research has shown that students learn better when home and school environments form complementary and supportive roles for learning. This article looks at Whalan Public School’s open classroom strategy to increase parental engagement and improve student engagement in the classroom.
Life Ready: This is a Department developed 25-hour course to prepare senior students as they navigate situations related to health and safety while developing independence and responsibility.
Australian Youth Mentoring Network: This is the national peak body for youth mentoring research, tools and resources, fostering the growth and development of high quality mentoring programs for young people in Australia by providing a national base of collaboration, support, guidance and expertise.
Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG): The AECG runs various programs across NSW that support Aboriginal students including connected communities, language, culture and literacy programs.
Police Citizens Youth Clubs RISEUP Strategy: This initiative incorporates job ready programs, mentoring and vocational training for at risk youth aged between 15 and 18 to build their engagement with education, employment opportunities and the community.
Care.Respect.Support podcast: Practical strategies schools can use to improve their school climate and create a sense of belonging for their students and teachers.
Presentation by Erin Erceg – How can the school environment inflame or extinguish bullying behaviour.