Developing a lunchtime culture of respect
We all know how important it is for all adults in the school to be involved in RRR. Lunch breaks may bring about a collapse in respectful behaviour such that many schools have instigated RRR lunchtime initiatives. In this example, Janice Barnes, Senior Lunchtime Supervisor at Newlands Primary School, explains her strategy and her hopes for its longer-term impact. Headteacher, Carl McCarthy (who is asking the questions in this interview) reports that following Janice’s work so far, the lunchtime book of recorded behaviour contains less than half the number of incidents compared to the previous year.
Question: Why did you decide to train the lunchtime supervisors using the area of Rights, respect and responsibility?
Janice: As the Senior Lunchtime Supervisor I feel that I am responsible for the training of the lunchtime supervisors. There is no applicable training organised for the supervisors, so I prepare my own. I feel that the supervisors should be more aware of what the children are doing in the classroom and so I try to keep up to date on this. I can then prepare my own training to link in with classroom work. This is important in many ways:
- the supervisors are well informed and understand the children better
- the lunchtime becomes more of a continuation of the working school day, and the children have new rules or ideas reinforced
- staff should find that children are benefiting quicker because of the continuity.
Question: How did you set about introducing the Rights, respect and responsibility theme to the lunchtime and the lunchtime supervisors?
Janice: A while ago, working with the previous deputy headteacher, I planned and carried out some training on Rights, respect and responsibility as this was what the school was introducing at the time. The good communication between myself and the then deputy headteacher really brought this about. Now that we have a new deputy headteacher I am working with him and the good communication is continuing. You
(Mr McCarthy) showed me the UNCRC and I took this, and my original training, and put the two together for a training session with the supervisors. I chose certain Articles from the Convention and we spent some time discussing the rights of the child. I wanted the supervisors to understand the language used in the Convention and the classroom so that they would use the same approach and language at lunchtime – this would improve continuity which is always a good thing when dealing with children.
Question: What is the current situation like?
Janice: The children are fairly good at respecting things like other people’s property, but I feel that all children have to be taught to respect other people’s feelings.
Question: What do you think will be different? And why?
Janice: I hope the children will begin to understand what rights they and other children have. I also hope that the lunchtime supervisors will gain an understanding of children’s rights. Supervisors often complain that they get little respect. This can be improved when the children realise that the supervisors are affording them respect and many children then reciprocate. The classes at this school have worked hard on having class charters with their rights and responsibilities to others listed on them. This should help them understand that they have responsibilities too.
Question: What are the pupils’ reactions? Any noticeable differences early on?
Janice: We have certainly had some children use the language that has been used in the classroom: “… It’s my right to have a turn as well …”. The supervisors also try to encourage the children to understand how others feel and that the other child in a dispute has rights as well. A difference in the children’s general behaviour will take time, I think. This is why it is important to have all staff, including lunchtime staff, reinforcing the use of the language and ensuring that the children understand the rights of others, their own responsibilities and if they show respect for others then others will show them respect. I really feel that, although there may not have been an immediate and sudden change in pupil behaviour, it is a step in the right direction. Having an initiative on Rights, respect and responsibility can only be a good thing and hopefully it will bring about some real changes and improvements in children’s behaviour in the long-term. I also think it is a good thing for the adults working alongside children, for them to take another look at the way they behave towards the children in their care.