What is OPAL?
Research has shown that children spend 20% of their time in school playing. To ensure that this time and our fantastic school grounds are used to their full potential our school has adopted an OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) philosophy that allows the children freedom to explore play in their own imaginative ways, often using found and gathered resources in the natural outdoor environment.
An OPAL approach promotes a more inclusive play environment in which all children can feel comfortable to express themselves. Our OPAL journey began in Spring 2017 and since this time, we have quickly transformed our outdoor environment. Our children love the new outdoor opportunities that OPAL offers with so much more for them to do, no matter the weather! From playing with tyres and digging in the sand pit, to enjoying imaginative play in the small world area or cooking up a storm in the mud kitchen, OPAL offers an exciting alternative to the standard playground activities.
Through this approach to play children are not only more active at lunch or break times, but 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.
What our children think?
-Really fun, we can go on all of the fields, and we have lots of things to do. YR 5 child
-Very good- I love it! We get time to speak to teachers and they play with us. Also, we can see all of the younger children and help them, and they can play with us. YR 6 child
– It is amazing! We get to explore and do lots of things around our school grounds. YR3 child
– It’s exciting when we get to go and see what we have new in our loose parts shed. It is always full of treasure! YR 2 child
– We look forward to a Friday assembly to see who has got the Golden welly award. We get nervous and excited with the drum roll!! YR4 child
What our community think?
We have also been communicating with parents to ensure they understand our OPAL provision and the changes we make to our playtimes. Take a look at some of the things our community had to say about OPAL at our school…
“AMAZING! There is so much for the children to do and so much space! Staff have a great time too. Children willingly take risks and play creatively. Older children take responsibility for younger children when playing and it is lovely to see them mixing!” – Mrs Randell: EYFS Leader.
“I really enjoyed coming into school to see the OPAL area and plant a flower. The OPAL area is excellent and there is so much for the children to do” – Ruth Cunningham: Parent
“Very good ideas and great initiative” – Malgorzata Letkiewicz: Parent
“A lot less First Aid and incidents. More exciting and more for the children to do. Good use of all the school grounds now!” – Mrs Dunn: Teaching Assistant
“Absolutely fantastic my little girl loves OPAL Play” – Amy Sharafi and David Thompson: Parents
“Many more children are fully engaged now using all of the outdoor space. Groupings are mixed and more fluid which is a good thing. Children can be seen being creative and just having lots of fun!” – Mrs Donnelly: Y6 Teacher
What we’ve been up to?
Take a look at the links below to get an idea of all the fantastic things the children have been up to and just how much fun they are having…
Take a look at the pictures below to find out what OPAL looks like at our school…
Check out the up to date OPAL information below:
Introducing OPAL bingo! Each class has been given a bingo board with lots of items to collect – anything from a wooden spoon to a scooter – when a class collects all the ‘loose parts’ on their board and calls bingo they will get 15 minutes extra OPAL time! If a class calls bingo including their starred item, they will win 30 MINUTES extra time!! Please see Facebook and google classrooms for your Childs/Children’s bingo board.
‘The Golden Welly’
Children can achieve this award for using their initiative during play, outstanding behaviour, being a kind friend or showing good sportsmanship. Their reward for receiving the ‘Golden Welly’ during Friday well done assembly will be 15 minutes extra OPAL time on a Friday afternoon for their WHOLE CLASS!
They will get to keep the trophy in class for the week and receive a certificate to be displayed in school and one to bring home to show off their amazing achievement! Check out our amazing trophy!
Loose Parts Plea
You can always help us by donating any unwanted materials you have at home; we always need loose parts and greatly appreciate these throughout the year;
- cable rolls/wheels
- plastic or metal buckets
- kitchen utensils, pots, pans, plastic plates etc for the mud kitchen.
- watering cans, guttering
- large fabric
- dressing up clothes
- dolls and push chairs
If you have any enquiries regarding items or any general questions about donating, please contact the school office via email, who will pass it to our OPAL lead – email@example.com.