Graeme Dingle Foundation Offers Solutions to Address Disruptive Classroom Behaviour


Graeme Dingle Foundation says its programmes reduce disruptive behaviour in classrooms following recent Education Review Office (ERO) report


Nationwide youth development charity, Graeme Dingle Foundation, says its programmes reduce disruptive behaviour in classrooms following the recent release of the Education Review Office (ERO) report highlighting ‘challenging behaviours in classrooms being at critical levels’.

The report, published by ERO on the 28th of March, included data from the OECD’s 2022 international study of 15-year-olds that showed New Zealand teens reported classroom disruption at higher rates than students in other countries. CEO of Graeme Dingle Foundation, Jo Malcolm- Black, said the Foundation has been delivering its programmes for almost 30 years with proven results in improving student behaviour across the country.

“The Graeme Dingle Foundation has been delivering positive outcomes in youth development and engagement for nearly 30 years and we know that the work that we do in the development of young people can be the difference between adverse outcomes and real strategies which help them cope. In our programmes, young people are provided with learning opportunities which guide them to improve their behaviour and increase self-efficacy in line with our positive behaviour for learning strategies.

“We have also learned in that the last four years that our programmes for senior students, for example, have been of critical importance in the reengagement of young people as we see more and more silent disengagement.  Unchecked, silent disengagement can manifest in the form of negative classroom and community behaviours “ she said.

“Our research, evaluation, and programme teams have conducted analysis of the pandemic’s impact on young people in the past. The findings are not dissimilar to what we already know about our most vulnerable communities, however we know we have a larger ongoing issue on our hands with the disengagement of youth and poor behaviour in schools, in part exacerbated by the pandemic. Our findings are complementary to research worldwide, and to findings which have been highlighted in the recent ERO report.” Said Malcolm- Black

With the recent news of behaviour reaching critical stages, Malcolm– Black highlights the benefits of using the Foundation’s programmes across the country to support better classroom behaviour and student engagement.

Graeme Dingle Foundation programmes, particularly our programme Kiwi Can for 5-12 year olds, directly address the concerns highlighted within the ERO report through provision of highly skilled leaders and mentors that give youth additional support to thrive. We have seen the strength of this connection-based support and role-modelling for young people throughout many years of research and evaluation.

The ERO report highlights a solution of Good Practice in Managing Behaviour, stating:

‘…Effective behaviour management uses a combination of ‘proactive’ and ‘reactive’ strategies ‘Proactive’ strategies are designed to reduce the likelihood of challenging behaviour occurring. They include preventative measures such as establishing clear expectations and rewarding good behaviour when it occurs. Proactive strategies require good knowledge of students and strong relationships, developing school-wide approaches for managing behaviour, and explicitly teaching ‘learning behaviours.’

The Graeme Dingle Foundation’s Kiwi Can programme engages young people with schooling in a pro-social setting.

“Our Kiwi Can Leaders are consistent role models for each young person, seeing them once a week in class, and through other extracurricular initiatives. Kiwi Can supports the well-being of students, alongside teaching staff and has been proven to improve school attendance.” Said Malcolm- Black

Graeme Dingle Foundation research shows that Kiwi Can works to develop a young person’s life skills through socio-emotional learning, using positive role models and multi-sensory experiences which have been proven as particularly effective for children who are neurodiverse. An end of year evaluation conducted by the Foundation from 2023 showcases the effectiveness of Kiwi Can in schools and states:

‘Teachers said the skills learnt in the programme empowered neurodiverse learners and engaged all tamariki. Participants reported the interactive activities provided an enjoyable way for ākonga to learn and practice positive relationships, teamwork, and resilience. These skills transferred into the classroom setting and supported prosocial behaviour outside of lessons, especially when reinforced by school staff. Ākonga learnt about social expectations, problem solving and learnt they are not alone facing challenges.’

Endorsing the Kiwi Can programme, Justin Perriam of Christchurch’s Burnside Primary School and previously Principal of Te Kura o Matarangi Northcote School said “Our Kura has been fortunate to be associated with Kiwi Can, and the positive changes it has brought into our school community are truly remarkable. Kiwi Can’s focus on empowering our ākonga with essential life skills has been instrumental in helping them self-regulate, make wise choices, foster friendships, and nurture their self-belief. These skills are not just lessons; they are the building blocks of character that will serve our ākonga well throughout their lives.”

Sharing in Perriam’s views, Principal from Auckland’s Koru School, Stan Whata said

“The values of our school help our students who were once vulnerable, [to] learn strategies to help them make decisions about overcoming social injustice, unconscious bias, racism, and poverty. The vision and values of our school are closely intertwined with Kiwi Can [in] that for us – it is a way of being, an acceptance and recognition of who we are and how we connect with each other and society.”

Kiwi Can students across the country themselves reflected on the role the programme plays in producing positive classroom and school behaviours for learners.

A Kiwi Can student from Southland said “…I enjoyed playing all the games and learning how to improve my anger/feelings. You guys really helped me to stay calm with breathing (I actually told my Mum about that last night.) Thank you for making this school a better place.”

Another commented “We have learnt about positive relationships. About how to be honest, reliable, and responsible. Being empathetic to others.”

Graeme Dingle Foundation CEO, Jo Malcolm Black, says investing in early intervention programmes like Kiwi Can which build foundational skills in young people will help to support positive behaviour change and resilience in students across the country.

“For many years we have seen the Kiwi Can programme and others we run for different age groups really work for students long-term. Supporting organisations like ours to power up means that we can facilitate work with more students, to develop prosocial behaviour in classrooms across the country.

We already work in 132 schools nationwide and deliver programmes successfully to almost 30,000 students annually and would like to see more support to enable this impact to grow” she said.

For more information, please contact Foundation CEO Jo Malcolm-Black | 022 368 9726



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