Renfrewshire Council

'Play Champs' scheme provides another listening ear for pupils

Arkleston play champs  As Renfrewshire Council updates its anti-bullying policy for schools in line with national guidance, one local primary has shared how its' 'Play Champs' scheme provides another listening ear for children in the playground.

Arkleston Primary School in Renfrew set up the scheme in the playground three years ago.

The play champs - primary six and seven pupils who receive training -  move around the playground and are accessible to any children who have a worry or concern and may feel uncomfortable telling an adult.

Head teacher Carolyn Crawford says the scheme has given pupils increased confidence, knowing somebody is there to listen to them.

She said: "The scheme evolved out of our buddy system where primary sevens support new primary ones in the playground. Buddies were required for the first couple of weeks to support the younger children, but as the weeks went on, the level of support required dwindled. There were, however  always one or two kids who wanted to regularly check in with their buddies,.

"We realised that this relationship between children was powerful, and decided to find a way to use it for the benefit of all children."

The champs report back with any concerns raised by children and also any recurring issues to teachers Serena Kajla and Louise Farrell.

The head teacher added: "While there are also lots of adults in the playground who are there to listen, the play champs provide another set of kind and caring ears.

"Approaching an adult when already you are feeling vulnerable can be quite scary for some children. "Play champs help to breaks down any barriers in communication and ensures everyone has options when expressing their thoughts and feelings."

 "It's not about going out and initiating play, it's about health and wellbeing and just being there for each other when things are difficult."

The head teacher said the initiative has been positively received by the children and when the play champs committee themselves did an audit, they reported that any arguments were resolved quickly, with children feeling safe.

Carolyn Crawford added: "One pupil said that being a play champ had really helped her feel more confident so it's helping the children who are the champs as much as those who are using the facility."

Article published 3 September, 2018

Picture caption: Play champs at Renfrew's Arkleston Primary.