The 13th - 17th November 2023 is Anti-Bullying Week, and we are sharing the ways that playground equipment, playground markings and strategic playground design can help reduce and prevent bullying in primary schools.
We implement anti-bullying techniques into classroom activities on a daily basis. Whether it’s something direct like collaborative activities or themed assemblies, or something more discreet like a mindful seating plan, the classroom is an easily observable place. At playtime, where children have time for unstructured free play outdoors, it can be a little more tricky to manage.
Playgrounds are a critical area where bullying incidents occur. Children may engage in bullying behaviours if they are bored and seeking excitement, or if they feel the need to belong to a group by excluding others. Playgrounds with hidden or unsupervised areas also make it easier for bullying to go unnoticed. Left unchecked, bullying can have a devastating impact on all areas of a child’s life, and have severe detrimental effects on their mental and social development, as well as their academic achievement and, in some cases, their physical health too.
The school playground should be a place of safety and enjoyment, not a source of dread and worry for a child who is a target for bullying. Although not a solution on its own, thoughtful playground design can serve as a powerful tool to minimise bullying.
We’ve compiled a list of playground markings to consider when designing your playground with bullying prevention in mind:
How to Play: Players stand on designated spots. One player starts by performing a simple action or pose. The next player mimics the action and adds their own. This sequence continues, with each player mimicking the previous actions and adding a new one.
This game encourages observation and participation from all players, ensuring everyone is involved. It can help shy children become more engaged in a group setting and reduce feelings of isolation.
How to Play: Children sit in a circle, facing inward. One child walks around the circle, tapping each child’s head while saying 'duck' for each tap. Randomly, they will say 'goose' when tapping a child. The 'goose' must then rise and chase the 'ducker' around the circle, trying to tag them before they can sit in the 'goose’s' spot.
This game is excellent for younger children, encouraging them to interact with each other in a fun, light-hearted way. It works best in larger groups, and helps breaks down barriers, allowing children to mix and socialise – reducing the likelihood of exclusion and bullying.
How to Play: This game consists of target rings laid out on the ground, each with different point values. Players take turns throwing bean bags or similar objects into the rings, aiming to score the highest points.
This game is designed for multiple players and encourages teamwork, fair play and the importance of healthy competition. It's an inclusive activity that accommodates varying skill levels, allowing all children to participate and feel valued.
How to Play: This is a variation of traditional hopscotch with four interconnected hopscotch grids. Players hop on one foot into each square in sequence, turning around when they reach the end and returning to the start.
Quad Hopscotch can be played by multiple players at once, promoting social interaction and cooperative play. It's a physically active game that helps dissipate excess energy, which can be a factor in bullying behaviour.
How to Play: One child is 'Mr Wolf' and stands at one end of the play area. The other children stand at the opposite end. They ask, “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?” Mr Wolf answers with a time (e.g., “Three o'clock”). The children take that many steps towards Mr Wolf. At any point, Mr Wolf can respond, “Dinner time!” and chase the children. If Mr Wolf tags someone, that person becomes the new Mr Wolf.
This classic game encourages group participation and can help build a sense of community among players. It promotes active engagement, and the unique position of power it offers can help reduce social anxiety, a contributing factor to bullying.
Custom Playground Markings
You don't just have to stick to our pre-made designs when it comes to choosing playground markings. Everything can be tailored specifically to the needs and preferences of your school — or we can help you to create something effective from scratch. Your values are unique to your school and your pupils, and an important reminder to children about the community they're a part of. Why not display them somewhere prominent, with pride, alongside your school logo?
By utilising elements such as playground markings alongside other areas of your bullying prevention framework, it can go a long way to creating a space where all children feel safe, valued and supported, regardless of their background, ability or social skills.
For more playground markings, inspiration and ideas, visit the Signet Play website.