La escuela sin reglas en Australia genera un gran impacto

  • Swanson Primary: The school with no rules making a big impact
IT SOUNDS like organised chaos, there are no rules, and pretty much anything goes.

But this isn’t some bizarre social experiment, instead this is just a normal day in the life of kids who attend the school with no rules.

Swanson Primary School principal Bruce McLachlan said he and his teachers had noticed a huge improvement in students’ behaviour since the ‘no rules rule’ was unofficially introduced around three years ago.

The principal of the West Auckland school said far from having a “Lord of the Flies” scenario, it was simply about letting kids be kids and learning through play.

And not only has their behaviour in the classroom improved but teachers have more time to teach instead of babysit as kids learned to solve their own problems.

Mr McLachlan said he used to be the guy who stopped kids climbing and playing until he realised it was normal learning behaviour. Source: SBS

“I used to be one of those teachers who said don’t ride your bike through the courtyard, don’t climb that tree,” he told

“Then I realised there was a voice in my head asking what was wrong with it?

“Kids will hurt themselves but they’ll also learn from it.”

Mr McLachlan said he got the idea following a study by an Auckland University of Technology study which looked at cutting obesity rates and bullying through increased activity and play time.

But it proved so successful, and after noticing a dramatic decrease in bullying, he decided to introduce the no rules idea in the playground without even asking parents.

“I’d rather beg forgiveness than ask permission,” he said of the idea.

“The idea was getting kids back to being kids and playing just like I did in the 1960s.”

While students are supervised, kids are left to sort out their own battles and even get themselves back into class on time.

He said the only rule kids had when it came to the playground was they weren’t allowed to kill each other.

And even he is surprised by the results and how well parents have reacted to it.

He said teachers had noticed how much more productive students were after active play and instead of teachers breaking up fights, the students resolved their own problems.

Mr McLachlan also said kids learned problem solving skills when left to their own devices and when he thought they would hurt themselves he turned a blind eye.

“They might hurt themselves, but they get up again and get on with it,” he said.

“At the end of the day, they’re better prepared for learning, learn to solve problems, are more active and teachers don’t spend the first five minutes of every class sorting out disputes,” he said.

“It may sound different but it just makes sense.”

Mr McLachlan, who has been the principal at Swanson since before the no rules rule came into effect, said, the response he has received so far has been universally positive.

The school’s story, which airs on Dateline tonight, shows the children as they climb trees and fences, skid around on bikes, wrestle with each other and fire makeshift weapons around a playground littered with potential hazards.

And according to reporter Dani Isdale it’s not only allowed but encouraged.

“I knew what to expect but even I was quite surprised,” she told of what she saw during her time at the school.

She said while she was at first shocked to see kids racing around the playground on bikes dodging each other and climbing high fences, it really seemed to work for these students.

“It’s a natural instinct to want to say to the kids stop, but I soon noticed older kids breaking up fights and if one fell over, they just got back up with no fuss and got on with it,” she said.

But Ms Isdale said while it seemed to work for these kids, it might not work for all kids, and would not catch on in Australia, which was bound by different legal constraints.

She added at the end of the day both Mr McLachlan and his teachers and parents who risk managed and over protected their kids all had their best interests at heart and neither way was necessarily right.

For Swanson parent Roy Waite, whose son Curtis goes to the school, the no rules rule has changed his son for the better.

Mr Waite, whose older son has just left the school and whose youngest has just started, said the difference in his middle son Curtis, 12, had been phenomenal.

Admitting he was cynical at first as to how it worked, he said his son was instead being tested to his limits and had developed a greater sense of confidence, as well as improved his learning capabilities.

“He has gone from being a sheltered kid who got into trouble for little things to learning from his mistakes and loving it,” Mr Waite said.

“Really, it’s about letting kids be kids and giving them back some responsibility to solve their own problems.”

And despite his son breaking his arm while playing at the school, Mr Waite said the incident had been character building and his son had learned from it.


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