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What’s Air Hockey got to do with it?

The latest Bethany Blog of the Spring Term has been written by Claire Mills, Head of Years 7 & 8 and Assistant Head of DLS at Bethany School. She writes about the Year 7 & 8 day room buzzing with new game additions, which has encouraged not just loads of fun but also personal development, better communication and successful conflict resolution.

In the busy and bustling Year 7 & 8 day room, recent new additions, courtesy of the Friends of Bethany School (FOBS) Committee, have sparked excitement and camaraderie among our pupils – a football table and an air hockey table. Beyond their intended purpose of a source of entertainment, the introduction of these games tables has provided a unique opportunity to witness the personal development and growth of our pupils in unexpected ways.

As the air hockey and football tables became a focal point during break and lunchtimes, it quickly became evident that its impact extended far beyond the games themselves; the pupils’ engagement with the games tables reflected their personal development.

The tables serve to engage in friendly competition and collaborative play. In the heat of the game, they learn to communicate effectively with their peers, develop strategies, and work together towards a common goal. The development and practice of respectful dialogue and teamwork allow pupils to cultivate valuable interpersonal skills that are essential for success both inside and outside the classroom.

Anyone who has played an 11- or 12-year-old at air hockey will not be surprised to learn that conflict resolution and empathy come to the fore. In the spirited atmosphere of the games tables, conflicts inevitably arise from time to time. However, these moments provide valuable opportunities for pupils to practice conflict resolution and empathy. Through open dialogue, active listening, and support to develop a genuine understanding of each other’s perspectives, they learn to resolve conflicts and cultivate empathy towards their peers. We will be exploring the use of pupil voice to ensure that access to the table is fair and equitable, furthering these skills.

Another aspect of development observed is problem-solving and critical thinking. The games tables present pupils with a series of challenges that require quick thinking and strategic decision-making. As they anticipate their opponent’s moves and adapt their strategies accordingly, they engage in critical thinking and problem-solving processes. They learn to analyse situations, make informed decisions, and adjust their approach in real-time – skills that are invaluable in academic pursuits and everyday life. Once, when the excitement became too great and a break was needed, the air hockey playing pieces were removed, and the pupils worked together to devise replacement parts out of Lego. The pupils were congratulated on an ingenious solution, but sadly the Lego was not deemed a suitable substitute.

The games tables became a catalyst for building relationships and fostering a sense of community among pupils of different ages and interests. Through friendly competition and shared experiences, laughter, camaraderie, and mutual support, it is heartening to see shared experiences that strengthen our school community. As pupils encounter moments of triumph and defeat, celebrate victory or face setbacks, they demonstrate resilience and sportsmanship in their interactions.

The introduction of the games tables has become more than just a recreational activity – it has become a symbol of personal growth, collaboration, and community within our school. We will continue to encourage and support our pupils as they navigate the journey of personal development, embracing each opportunity for growth with enthusiasm and resilience.


Claire Mills

Head of Years 7 & 8 and Assistant Head of DLS