Sophie Slack, Lily Tang and Leah Morgan enjoying lunch while Ryan Goltz, Nate Gourley, Austin Provan and Tyler Cruickshank play in the background. Kin Kora State School is trialling a new lunchtime routine where students play first, eat second with initial results showing students are going back into the classroom calmer and eating more of their lunches.
Sophie Slack, Lily Tang and Leah Morgan enjoying lunch while Ryan Goltz, Nate Gourley, Austin Provan and Tyler Cruickshank play in the background. Kin Kora State School is trialling a new lunchtime routine where students play first, eat second with initial results showing students are going back into the classroom calmer and eating more of their lunches. Matt Taylor GLA080219PLAY

'No-brainer': How Gladstone school has changed lunch time

ROUTINE has been the key to getting students to eat their lunches and return to classrooms calmer at a Gladstone primary school.

Kin Kora State School is trialling a play first, eat second initiative, where students get outdoors and play for the first part of their lunch break, and eat during the last 10 to 15 minutes.

Principal Jorgen Neilsen said three weeks in, the results showed students were eating more of their lunch and burning their energy before returning to class.

Mr Neilsen said instead of students sitting down and chatting during most of their lunch breaks, now they were playing on the oval.

The lunch break structure is not the norm in Queensland schools, but Mr Neilsen said it was not new.

In 2010 he introduced it at a rural school near Emerald, where it had similar results.

But it was at a much smaller, rural school of 80 students, compared to the 780 at Kin Kora.

"If students are coming back into the classroom rowdy because it's been an exciting time in the playground ... you could estimate they're losing about three to six minutes after every break, so that's 12 minutes a day, 2400 minutes a year," Mr Neilsen said.

He said if the lunch time structure continued to have a positive effect, it was a "no brainer" to implement it permanently.

"We're seeing less behaviour issues in students needing to be managed at the end of the breaks and for teachers on eating duty when children are bursting to let off some energy," he said.

Mr Neilsen said staff also found fewer students needing first aid from feeling ill from running around on a full stomach.

The move was also welcomed by parents, who said it was a relief their children were eating their lunch.