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Halswell School – Learning through play


Learning through play is an approach that focuses on developing key competencies. It provides opportunities for students to pursue interests and passions. Halswell School is using this approach with their Year 1–4 students after engaging in a Teaching as Inquiry process. Their shared inquiry highlighted the benefits and positive impact a play–based learning approach has had on teaching and learning in their school.

Through this series of videos, Year 3–4 teacher Kate Bodger describes the evidence and collaborative practice that supports their learning through play programme. She shares how the teachers work together to create exciting learning experiences and how student voice supports the learning design. Kate describes the impact this way of teaching has had on her own practice and how increased student engagement has benefitted other learning areas also.

A play based learning approach at Halswell School (Part 1)

"Even in a short time it’s made a really big impact on our children, you know those ones that aren’t quite ready for school and aren’t engaged in school. They’re starting to get more excited about coming and talking about their learning a lot more openly."

Play based learning in action at Halswell School (Part 2)

"What’s been really fantastic about our approach with the students is that through them being at the centre of things we’ve been really aware about student voice and making sure that they have a place."

Play based learning (and inquiry) supporting learner agency (Part 3)

"The play based learning has definitely helped the children to work with different different groups of children and they’re finding children based on their interests, rather than their group of friends."


  • What kinds of teaching and learning approaches do you use in your school to develop key competencies?
  • Are there benefits of a 'learning through play' approach for students? If so, what are they? 
  • How does your school engage in collaborative inquiry to monitor and reflect on different teaching and learning strategies and the impact of these on your students? 
  • How could a collaborative approach to teaching and learning impact your students?

Find out more 

Research Report – New entrants in the re-making

Blog post – Learning through play

What 3-7 year olds need to learn – Nathan Mikaere-Wallis (National Radio)