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Learning to play at Whitehawk

Year 1 children from Whitehawk School took part in a range of creative activities identifying and learning the rules of play.  Through teamwork and peer learning with Year 5 children, they developed new skills that had a direct impact on their behaviour in class.

Who was involved

  • Year 1 and Year 5 children from Whitehawk Primary School, Brighton and Hove, with Year 1 teacher Rebecca Harvey, and Year 5 teacher Mark Richardson
  • Creative practitioner: Sharon Mee


How can we develop play-skills to improve behaviour within a targeted group of Year 1 boys?


  • To improve behaviour and motivation in school and reduce incidents of negative behaviour in class and in the playground.
  • To encourage and develop fundamental principles to play and co-operation within a target group of Year 1 boys within the class and during playtime
  • To develop a new model of peer learning
  • To develop an atmosphere of belonging and inclusion to encourage increased participation and support from parents and carers
  • To create a resource of work to support the legacy of practice


Year 1 children developed an understanding and practice of play which involved dealing with conflicts, turn taking and sharing.  Their improved behaviour and motivation created a calmer atmosphere, encouraging an increase in the children’s willingness to learn in class.

Peer teaching gave the older children a role of responsibility developing leadership skills and the younger children progressed to become playtime leaders.  The participatory celebration events developed by the children with a life size puppet ‘Silver Boy’ were attended by more parents than any other activity that year.  The school now has a resource of materials for future use.

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My mummy will be so proud of me, I’m a play leader.


Working with Y1 has made us feel more trust worthy and more sensible. If Y1s can do it then we can do it too.


After taking part in this project any activity that involves others has improved and lessons are calmer with children sharing, turn taking and listening.


This has been a very positive developmental experience for the children both socially and emotionally.


The children have owned and authored this project more than the adults, we have been the facilitators.