Valuing Play - Staff Workshop at Holy Cross School

29 March 2022

If you had to think back to your childhood play memories, what would these be?  

This was a question posed by Tania, one of our Community Connectors, who ran a workshop at Holy Cross School in term one around breaktime play. The aim of the workshop was to encourage staff to value play, see the benefits of it and put some ideas into action.  

The workshop involved all staff at the school, including both teachers and support staff, and began by getting them to reflect on their own play memories. Using play dough, everyone had to mold something that represented a play memory from when they were younger. There were trees, tyres, toys, and all sorts of other wonderful things.  

Tania then got staff to discuss ideas around ‘what is play?', including the 16 different types of play, how much of their school day/week is spent on play and does their budget reflect this, and what the role of adults is in play. This brought about some extensive discussions and was a great way to look at how the school could embrace play more within their breaktimes. 

Staff then had to choose a piece of play equipment or a game they see the tamariki playing –and write down and discuss what the tamariki are learning/developing through this and how does this fit in with classroom learning. This led onto a great discussion around risky play – what is it? What are the benefits of risky play activities? What are the opportunities for risky play within the school? 

They then watched the amazing video of St Michaels School who has taken breaktime play to the next level. This helped inspire some innovative ideas ... (141) Amazing Primary Playtime at St Michael's OPAL Platinum School - YouTube 

The groups then reflected on the current playground rules and what could be changed, as well as looking at actions they could implement to make break times more valuable. 

Following this workshop, the school has already made changes. Acting Principal Lyn Hough says, “Our staff have embraced some of the more risky elements of play as a result of Tania's time with us. We now have lots of sports gear out and about, children are climbing trees and messy play is developing.” They are also looking into getting some tackle rugby going at lunchtimes as this was something their senior boys really wanted.