Playtime Policy

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It is recognised that each school has its own identity and will approach the following in differing ways, for differing reasons and from differing starting points. We have simply collated a few thoughts from schools which have submitted playground behaviour policies to us. Overleaf is a sample policy which we hope may provide further assistance.


TERM ONE (first half)

1. Discussion regarding the need for a policy with regard to childrens play, involving management, teaching staff, governors and lunchtime supervisors.

2. Key member of the teaching staff assigned responsibility for policy and strategies.  Ideally this is one of the senior management team.

3. Consider the social and financial benefits to the school from the successful implementation of a robust playtime behaviour policy.

4. Audit of the playground, playtimes, playground equipment etc. Children, staff and parents consulted.

5. PTFA to consider financial support for the project, approximate financial target and means of achieving it.

TERM ONE (second half)

1. Awareness raising with parents. Request for memories of childhood games to be shared with school.

2. Awareness raising with children, both within the classroom and at assemblies.

  • Children involved with planning areas for play.
  • Children involved with planning common guidelines.
  • Children involved with planning organisational strategies (what games, where stored, who responsible,
  • rewards and sanctions, etc).

3. Staff meetings to be led by teacher responsible for playtimes to discuss approaches - linked to 2 above.

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TERM TWO (first half)

 1. Teacher responsible for playtimes released from teaching duties to lead training for lunchtime supervisors on a regular basis.

2.  Decide on Playground Activity Zones.

3. Inform parents of plans and suggest strategies for promoting and interacting with childrens play at home.

4. Order play equipment and positive play resources.  Introduce these gradually, focusing on new items and areas as they are introduced via class discussions and assemblies.

TERM TWO (second half)

1. Continue to introduce play items. Refine and revisit.


  • Older children playing with younger children - organisation of Playground Pals 
  • Zoned areas for ball games, quiet games, craze of the week, giant games, small equipment, imaginary play, performing arts, marked playground games, traditional games
  • Design of playground, seating, plants, trees and shade, sand pit, stages, fixed equipment, signage
  • Arrangements and responsibilities regarding transportation, storage and care of the equipment
  • Phased introduction of games
  • Rewards and sanctions – Green and red card system, reward tokens, raffle ticket/caught being good slips, linked with classroom charts and certificates.  Termly certificates for Positive Play
  • Emphasis on respect for people and property
  • Means of celebrating positive behaviour and co-operative play
  • Wet weather arrangements
  • Teaching traditional games/rhymes
  • Equal opportunities
  • Rotas
  • Signing of ‘contracts
  • Staff training
  • Arrangements for use of equipment (tokens for using equipment)
  • Means of ensuring consistency
  • Safety
  • Constrictions due to play environment
  • Climbing equipment and surfaces

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 The construction of a Playtime Policy requires a whole school process which leads to a shared understanding and acceptance of all the related issues for each individual school. Policies will not work in isolation if transplanted onto a school without this consultation process.

It is in the discussions and consultations that a shared understanding and agreement can be achieved.

We believe that the pressures within schools today are so great that a sample template policy which can be adapted will be supportive in thinking through the process and implementing a policy.


Positive playtime experiences are essential in developing student’s social skills and creating a safe, creative, learning culture throughout the school. Through play children develop and build relationships, confidence and self esteem, learn social skills, de-stress and let off steam, exercise and most of all they have fun. Play is an essential part of every child's life and is vital for the enjoyment of childhood as well as social, emotional, intellectual and physical development. Strong new evidence tells us that play is not just a necessary part of a happy childhood but is also needed to develop skills that are important for success in life.

When children are asked about what they think is important in their lives, playing and friends is usually at the top of the list. (Play England 2008).

In our current environment, we note that there is a marked decrease in opportunities for children to play outdoors. The increase in traffic, parental anxiety over the fear of abduction of young children and their safety, lack of playing fields,  development of technology and computer games, TV,  smaller families, parents working long hours, pressure for children to be doing extracurricular activities and some schools shortening playtimes are all contributing factors.   There is continuing pressure within the school to be more effective in academic areas.

These changes have all had a detrimental impact in the well being and general health of children.

Luckily organisations such as Play England and consultations such as ‘The Fair Play consultation’ (2008 Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) have highlighted the value of play and that children and young people want to play outside. They also want bigger and better play areas with more exciting, varied and challenging equipment and activities available to them. 

Against this background our school has decided to consider the purpose and value of school playtimes and to devise a policy which recognises the value of childrens play activities.

This policy has been constructed via consultations and discussions involving children, teachers, parents and lunchtime supervisors.

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Our Aims are that everyone will:

·         Be treated with respect and  valued

·         Be listened to and any issues or concerns that arise (conflict, arguing, fights, loneliness) are addressed.

·         Be safe

·         Be given opportunities to cooperate

·         Be able to  develop positive  relationships with their peers and the lunchtime supervisors


It is expected that the implementation of this whole school policy for playtimes will enhance childrens opportunities for positive and co-operative play and will provide a platform for the development of fundamental life skills.


Play is essentially about learning through untaught means. It is a way in which children come to understand themselves and the world around them. Play is often satisfying to the child, creative for the child and freely chosen by the child. Play may or may not involve equipment, be boisterous and energetic or quiet and contemplative, be done with other people or on one's own, have an end product or not, be light hearted or very serious.


We recognise at our school that our role is to promote the education of the whole child. Inevitably this means that we are concerned with areas of learning which cannot be taught. Through our policy for play we intend to provide opportunities for:

  • Negotiating
  • Sharing
  • Co-operating
  • Developing patience
  • Communicating
  • Listening
  • Accepting rules
  • Coping with success and failure
  • Competing
  • Being a member of a team
  • Developing leadership skills
  • Socialising
  • Developing tolerance
  • Learning when to be assertive and when to be submissive
  • Considering others
  • Taking turns
  • Taking risks
  • Development of physical skills
  • Physical activity


Children arrive at school between 8.45 am and 9.00 am. During this time children generally socialise and await the commencement of the school day.

Morning break lasts from [10.30 - 10.40 am]

Lunch break lasts from [12.00 noon - 1.00 pm]

Afternoon break lasts from [2.30 - 2.40 pm]

More than 7.5 hours per week of opportunity for developing the skills learned through play!


Infant children use the [south] playground.  Junior children use the [west] playground. The field is used by all children during dry weather and classrooms are used during wet playtimes.


The playtime supervisor is relieved of teaching or support duties five minutes before his/her playtime supervision. This gives an opportunity for coffee etc. before being on duty as the children come out to play.

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Playtime equipment is available for all children on a rotational basis. The chart showing which year groups are entitled to use the equipment at each break time or what the ‘Craze of the Week’ is on that week is displayed in the [hall] as well as on the playground wall. The areas for play with this equipment are clearly marked in both playgrounds. Playground PALS are responsible for the distribution and monitoring the return of all equipment.


Year six children have been identified to observe and assist in ensuring that all children are given opportunities to engage in play. These children report weekly to the teacher responsible for playtimes.


Our Playground PALS are a group of children from Year 5 or 6.

Their responsibilities are to:

·         To teach children different games

·         Befriend lonely children and to help them make friends

·         To take out and put away playground equipment

All members of the playground PALS meet regularly with the teacher responsible for playtimes for training and ongoing  support.

The 'Playtime PAL’S wear special tabards or caps for ease of identification.

Playtime PAL’S receive recognition and awards at assemblies and a certificate at the end of their time in the job.


We will not tolerate bullying behaviour in our school. All bullying incidents reported to a member of staff will be taken very seriously.

We identify bullying as:

·         Any form of intimidation

·         A lack of respect for your peers

·         Being isolated by your peers

·         Name calling

·         Discrimination

·         Verbal abuse 

Our Playground Rules

  • We are kind and helpful to everyone              
  • We are play safely and look after each other                                
  • We listen to each other 
  • We are honest and truthful
  • We take care of our school, playground and equipment                                             
  • We are respectful and polite


All lunchtime supervisors have lunchtime green praise slips, which pupils may receive for a variety of reasons, linked to our playground rules, including: Being kind, playing well with others, looking after and caring for our playground, listening, being well mannered and helpful.

Problem Solving

Staff try to help pupils sort out problems in a fair way and encourage pupils to take responsibility for their behaviour.  They will listen to all parties involved and encourage pupils to problem solve and find solutions. In some circumstances staff will intervene and help both parties reach a fair and amiable agreement.


If pupils are not able to sort out their problems in a fair way or they continue to:

·         Break the school rules

·         Use aggressive behaviour

·         Be involved in bullying behaviour

We will use the following sanctions:

Stage 1.  The child will be asked which rule he/she is breaking and which he/she needs to keep.  They will then be given a verbal warning. 

Stage 2.  The pupils name will then be written on a red playground behaviour slip, outlining the rule they have broken.

Stage 3.  The slip will be given to a class teacher at the end of play and put in the ‘I am unhappy with you’ box.

Stage 4.  The Head Teacher will speak with the pupil if two or more notes are received in one week and targets for improvement will be set.

And if this continues:

Stage 5.  A letter will be sent home and possible lunchtime exclusion will occur.


This policy has been constructed under the leadership of the teacher responsible for playtimes. It involved an audit of current play practice, in-service training sessions involving all teaching, ancillary and lunchtime supervisory staff and consultations with both children and parents. Ongoing sessions ensure a continued focus.


Observation and discussion form the basis of the monitoring process. The Playtime PAL’s have a monthly meeting with the lunchtime supervisors and the teacher responsible for playtimes in order to discuss their thoughts and observations. Certain 'Playtime PALS' have the responsibility of tracking individuals in order to analyse their play activities and report back to the meeting.


The outcomes for the school are expected to be:

  • Improved behaviour
  • Improved caring attitudes
  • Improved sense of responsibility
  • Improved relationships (child/child, child/adult)
  • Improved physical skills
  • A happier environment
  • A decrease in bullying
  • Improved respect for people and property

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This sample template playtime policy has been produced by Thérèse Hoyle on behalf of Edventure Limited. 

Thérèse Hoyle is bestselling author of 101 Playground Games and 101 Wet Playtime Games and Activities. Contact her direct for in depth advice on designing and developing your playtimes.  Tel: 0800 622 6033 or via

Edventure specialise in the design and supply of Playtime Games.

For a brochure please telephone 01753 64 72 00 or visit our website:

Edventure, Bishop House, East Burnham Park, Crown Lane, Farnham Royal, Slough, Berkshire, SL2 3SF.

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