Playground Dispute Resolution in New Zealand – Jenny Mosley’s Playground Systems are Powerfully at Work, Helping Children to Enjoy Playtime

We were really pleased to see this article coming through form New Zealand, where Jenny has had strong links with several training trips and has worked with many educators in many schools. We can see the powerful effect that bringing in a circle of support has brought to a group of children who were suffering from too many playground disputes. It is lovely to read at the end: “Now we’re like the experts. When there are people that need help, we’re the ones that go in with the strategies because we’ve learnt all of them from social circle.”

The article, entitled “New Programme Helps Students Solve Playground Dispute” is here: and is written by Teresa Ramsey

Here is an excerpt:

“Playground champions: Vaughan Chandler, 11, left, Jeremy Mann, 12, resource teacher Laura van Leeuwen, Trent Ball, 12, principal Tracey Adams, Fergus Ball, 10, and Reagan Quarterman, 11. Play time used to be a lot more “stressful” for a group of Netherton School students. Everyday playground disputes at the small Hauraki Plains school were causing strife and tension among the group of boisterous boys. But now, thanks to a new programme, they know how to handle it themselves.  Resource teacher for learning and behaviour (RTLB) Laura van Leeuwen said she was called to the school after one of the students was having some social issues last year.

“Every time I was working with him, the conversations kept being about the other kids in the playground and his friends, they were clashing,” she said. “So then I said, well we need to work with them, there’s no point us just sitting around and talking about it.” Van Leeuwen established a “social circle” for the boys, a voluntary group based on a concept developed by United Kingdom educator Jenny Mosley that provides a safe place for kids to work through problems. Circle rules say students must signal to speak, there are no put downs or interruptions, and names are not mentioned. The group is facilitated by two teachers and includes a few students who show strength in dealing with social issues. “It went so well that this year, I closed his case,” she said.

“It’s changed the behaviour of the kids in the school, it’s because they know they’ve got a voice. Now that they know that every Tuesday afternoon they have a space to talk about what issue there is, they just seem more relaxed. “It’s really great for their social and emotional learning, just bringing everyone together.”

Principal Tracey Adams saw the value in the programme and planned to expand it throughout the school. “Once you say to children it’s a safe place to share how you’re feeling about something that’s been happening, it’s amazing what comes out,” she said.

Students could say what happened and how it made them feel, enabling others to understand how their behaviour affected others. “It’s a safe way to say what’s actually happening and it not spiral into a fight, a disagreement where everybody feels bad.”

Adams said the boys’ behaviour had improved since taking part in the programme.  “They’re a competitive bunch and we were seeing a lot of issues with the games that they were playing where they would wind each other up and it would generally end with some people feeling pretty unhappy.

“Now they’ve learnt how their behaviour is affecting each other and so they’ve changed their own behaviour but also they’ve become more tolerant of each other as well.” Fergus Ball, 10, said social circle had helped him deal with disputes.

“It helps to get rid of a lot of stress on you,” he said.

Reagan Quarterman, 11, said social circle helped him control angry feelings. Jeremy Mann, 12, said the programme taught him strategies that he could use in the playground.

“If we see someone getting frustrated or something, we can go tell them our strategies and tell them we can put them in social circle if they want to be in it.”  Trent Ball, 12, said he had learnt a lot of life skills and he could now help others. Vaughan Chandler, 11, said it felt good to know how help others.

“Now we’re like the experts. When there are people that need help, we’re the ones that go in with the strategies because we’ve learnt all of them from social circle.”



Website Manager’s Notes

  1. Jenny has run several in-depth Train the Trainers courses in New Zealand over the last few years, and, excitingly, is just off to New Zealand again in July 2018 to meet lots of teachers, to work in several different schools and to run another Train the Trainers course there. Here’s to a fabulous training trip!
  2. The areas of Jenny’s expertise include circle time,  training for positive behaviour for learningtraining for midday supervisors and lunchtime supervisors to promote calm dining halls and healthy, active playgrounds, also training for promoting social and communication skills for learning and training for mental health and wellbeing.
  3. Jenny Mosley is available for self-esteem boosting INSET training days, Working In School Days and for longer projects involving several schools for schools training like the Peterborough Model Above.
  4. If you are interested in booking just a day of training, Jenny runs open training conferences around the country throughout the year. Jenny also excels as an educational presenter at schools conferences, LA conferences and Headteacher conferences.
  5. Jenny’s resources support all her areas of training and are available form her webshop.
  6. To contact us please phone 01225 767157 or email or use the contact form on our website. We look forward to hearing form you.
  7. Do see Jenny’s Calm Dining Halls articles in Headteacher Update and the TES.