4 ways you can immediately make lunchtimes better (Part 2 of 4)

Posted by Paul Aagaard · 2 min read · 11 comments

This second blog, in my 4-part series, focuses on behaviour expectations and identifies how you can make sure your behaviour policy is effectively implemented at lunchtime.


Children often perceive (wrongly) that the school rules don’t apply at lunchtime. “The children rule the playground” said a group of Supervisors I trained from a school in West London “and they don’t listen to us”. Children behave in this way for two reasons. Firstly, Supervisors say they get no back up from teachers so if there is no consequence for poor behaviour at lunchtime children will continue to behave inappropriately. Secondly, I always ask Supervisors during my positive behaviour training whether they know any of the school rules. In all schools I have visited none of them know any of the rules. Once children know that Supervisors don’t know the rules it becomes impossible to effectively manage behaviour. There are two ways to solve these behaviour concerns.

Lunchtime charter

Get Supervisors to work with school council and develop a lunchtime charter. This will help engagement and help children perceive Supervisors as teachers rather than cleaners. The charter will include all the behaviour expectations that children believe are fair, reasonable and acceptable. Easy to understand examples need to be identified for each of the school rules. If one of the school rules is “always be kind and helpful” then this could include: go and talk to anyone in the playground who is on their own and invite them to play with you, wait for your friends to finish eating and leave together and help someone who has fallen over. Here’s a lunchtime charter I helped develop for Beaumont School

Whole school behaviour scripts

Agree whole school behaviour scripts which everyone adopts to de- escalate incidents, praise good behaviour and check and correct poor behaviour. “Walk, thank you” is a good script for a response to running and “talk to me I am listening” is a good script for when a child starts shouting or arguing. If Supervisors use exactly the same language as teachers the children are much more likely to respect them and respond appropriately.


We worked with Hermitage School who developed a lunchtime charter based on their Caring Code and a series of whole school behaviour scripts. The number of white slip incidents reduced from 33 in the spring term before the changes were introduced to 5 in the summer term after the changes were introduced. That’s a 70% drop. Here are more details about how we helped Hermitage School improve their lunchtime provision. Hermitage School case study

If you would like to improve lunchtime behaviour, then please get in touch with us at Recipe for Change. Our lunchtime Improvement programme includes positive behaviour training for Midday Supervisors to help them de-escalate incidents. It makes sure the behaviour policy is consistently implemented at lunchtime and ensures children are respectful to Midday Supervisors. Based on the training, we write action plans to improve provision in both the dining room and playground, run whole school consultations and help introduce all the agreed changes that’ll make lunchtimes much better.

For more information, please email info@recipeforchange.co.uk

Paul Aagaard

Paul is a social entrepreneur who is passionate about improving safety and behaviour in schools by transforming lunchtimes. Working in partnership with caterers and local authorities to develop lunchtime improvement programmes, he helps schools ensure that children want to eat better, eat together, engage in good conversation and be more active.

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