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Old games flourish in more caring playground

Traditional playground games such as marbles and skipping are making a comeback at a Sheffield primary after a vote in the school council.

The games are being taught by pupils as part of a citizenship scheme at John Fisher Catholic primary. "Buddy teams" of pupils, clad in special T-shirts and baseball hats, also give emotional support to their peers.

Since the scheme started two years ago, the 220-pupil primary has set up a school council, promoted games that groups of children can play and established playground "buddy benches" where lonely pupils sit: the idea is that other pupils will join them for a chat.

Pupil members of the council are pleased with the lessons they have learnt. "I now know how to stop bullies, for example if someone says you are fat then you agree and they get confused," said Rebecca Rixham, aged 11.

The programme aims to encourage the young to play a more active role in their communities in a bid to lower crime and unruly behaviour The scool said it had improved co-operation between staff and pupils. Headteacher Liam McGurrin said: "Good education is about good relationships. Citizenship works if it can save one child from later becoming a drug addict or getting hooked on alcohol."

The move to promote citizenship formally began when David Blunkett launched the site at John Fisher in October 1999. Since then every primary in the UK and Ireland has been invited to join the project, which aims to share good practice and allow children to exchange ideas and artwork on citizenship.

The two "buddy benches" at John Fisher seem well-used. Jack Clayton, eight, said:"I have used it 12 times - when I am really tired I go there and talk to people to get my energy back." To try to make them active citizens, Mr McGurrin tells pupils about the "Dils" and the "Dins".

"I tell them about the the Do It Laters and the Do It Nows. Kids are never too young to learn about these things."

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