Green Island is a suburb of Dunedin City, South Island, New Zealand.

Green Island School was one of the first schools in New Zealand being established in 1853.  We are a mid-decile, full primary school catering for children in our area aged 5 to 13 years of age.  We have a wide cross-section of families living within our community, ranging from beneficiaries to professional occupations.  There is a thriving business community nearby and we have many excellent sporting facilities available.  The roll is stable with a typical year starting with 175 students and finishing in December with about 205 students. 

The school is located on large, terraced grounds with multiple play areas – including a flying fox, a fort, two adventure playgrounds, two artificial turfs, netball courts a large, grass sports field and plenty of great trees to climb. 

We currently operate 8 classrooms, organised into two Syndicates.  The Deputy Principal leads the Year 0 – 4 Junior Syndicate and the Assistant Principal leads the Year 4 – 8 Senior Syndicate.  Two additional teaching spaces are used for ESOL, Technology, Music, Assessment and other small group teaching programmes.  We have a well-resourced Library,Hall and Special Needs withdrawal space. 

We draw New Entrants from several Early Childhood Centres but predominantly from the Green Island Kindergarten, just across the road from our school entrance.   Our graduating Year 8 students go on to five different Secondary Schools in the wider Dunedin area.  

When Did We Start Play Is The Way® and Why?

2011 - 2012 were challenging years for us. Why?

  • 2012 Mid Year DetentionsAn influx of transient children into the senior school.
  • Ministry referrals from other schools across the district.
  • National Standards indicated low achievement in writing across the school.
  • Behaviour: number of detentions and anecdotal, the feel in the school especially the senior school and in the playground and students scared to participate in class and in extra curricula activities.

What Were Our Biggest Challenges?

  • Resistance of older children when starting.
  • Staff doing the reading.
  • It takes time and PD, can’t overload staff. 
  • Putting it in the appraisal goals.
  • Parents wanting punishment for other children.
  • Fixed mindset vs growth mindsets of staff.
  • Personal Awareness of reverting back to old ways.
  • A willingness to change and continually grow.
  • Staff to practice and model what we are expecting through the virtues of children.

What did we do?

  • Joined SWPB4L contract with Ministry of Education.
  • Used data management system to collect and analyse behaviour data.
  • Play Is The Way® Introduced:
  • Daily games give opportunities to discuss problems that arise while playing the games and enable children to problem solve with teacher guidance.
  • Development of a school wide teaching framework.
  • Life Raft Sessions to teach social and emotional competencies.
  • Virtues introduced to teach our framework. 

 So What Has Changed?

  • School culture changed from behaviour management to Behaviour Education.
  • Common language used by students and staff. 
  • Consistent approaches to behaviour. 
  • Development of improved teacher/student relationship.
  • Children have a language to express their feelings.
  • Children are more socially and emotionally competent.
  • The following data indicates the small percentage of repeat offenders: 

How We Keep Play Is The Way® Going. 

  • Embedded in strategic planning and school curriculum.
  • Part of appraisal goals.
  • Commitment from leadership team.
  • We continually PD in staff meetings and syndicate meetings, including readings. 
  • Sharing and analysing behaviour data regularly.
  • Clear expectations that daily games and virtues will be taught in the classroom.
  • Whole staff planning of term overview and of games and virtues to be taught and implemented each term.
  • Recognition (using virtues certificates) of children’s behaviour, celebrated in a variety of ways.
  • Support staff included and updated through regular informal meetings.
  • A strong commitment to a Long Term view vs Short Term View.

We would love to hear from you.

If you would like to know more about our Play Is The Way® journey or to visit our school to see it in action, please feel free to contact us.

Steve Hayward (Principal) -

Aaron Warrington (Assistant Principal) -

Jan Burn (Deputy Principal) -