OPAL – Outdoor Play and Learning
Children spend 20% of their time at school playing. With this in mind we have engaged with the OPAL Primary Programme (Outside Play and Learning) to support us in promoting freedom for children to explore play in their own imaginative ways, using found and gathered resources in the natural outdoor environment.
We are lucky to have such a great area for our children to play in but this was significantly underused, particularly in the winter /spring months when the fields became inaccessible due to them being wet, and due to the fact that a lot of the play was orientated around sport, due to the resources on offer, rather than creative play.
Following a term of planning and then carrying out building work we introduced the first phase of OPAL to our children in January 2016. Since then we have gone from strength the strength, securing the highest award for OPAL, the Platinum Award, in 2017.
It has been a great success – more children are loving being outside, no matter what the weather, as there is now so much more to do.
Whether it is playing with tyres and planks, digging in the sand pit, enjoying imaginative play in the small world area riding scooters or balance bikes, or playing with a wide range of loose parts, OPAL is offering a creative and exciting alternative to the regular activities on the yard.
Through this kind of play not only are children more active at lunchtime they are also having the opportunity to further develop life skills such as cooperation, team work and problem solving. They are becoming motivated and enthusiastic builders, engineers, explorers and designers.