It has long been recognised that play is fundamental to a child’s health, happiness, development and well being. Research has also shown that children spend 20% of their time in school playing. This led staff to reflect upon how playtimes could be improved in our school and in the Autumn of 2022 our OPAL journey began.
The OPAL vision is that “every child in every school has an amazing hour of high quality play every day” and as a school we share this vision and recognise the enormous benefits play has on a child’s life.
We are now developing the OPAL approach and hope to work with our school community to continually improve and enhance our play provision. Our school grounds are smaller in size with a traditional play yard, an area for Forest School and a small grassed area. Whilst we have developed these areas to date, through our OPAL project our school site is being transformed to offer the highest quality play experiences whatever the weather building on what we currently offer.
The school site is divided into zones and fundamental to our approach is that children have the opportunity to play wherever they want and with whoever they want. Our children have the freedom to explore and play in their own imaginative ways, experimenting, problem solving and having fun using a wide range of available resources which will be different in each zone.
The OPAL programme rationale is that “…better, more active and creative playtimes can mean happier and healthier children, and having happier, healthier, more active children usually results in a more positive attitude to learning in school, with more effective classroom lessons, less staff time spent resolving unnecessary behavioural problems, fewer playtime accidents, happier
staff and a healthier attitude to life”.
Our school also acknowledges the UN Charter on the Rights of the Child, especially Article 31, and supports the child’s right to play. We believe play provision should be:
“Welcoming and accessible to every child, irrespective of gender, sexual orientation,
economic or social circumstances, ethnic or cultural background or origin, or individual abilities.”
Our outdoor areas are continually being developed and offer an even wider range of play opportunities. The children love playing in all the different areas including rolling in tyres, constructing dens, creating games with small world toys or zipping round the yard on wheels. They are having fun and are developing life skills of team work, problem solving, communication, resilience whilst also developing their creativity and imagination.
Our OPAL play project is a great success and the children love being outside. Our project goes from strength to strength but there is always more to do so with the support of our OPAL team and fantastic families the world of play will continue to be transformed to capture and inspire our children’s imaginations.
Watch out for our OPAL Newsletters here.