Outside Play And Learning (OPAL) has won the best active schools’ programme in Europe award and been cited in two Parliamentary Reports as outstanding practice. OPAL is working closely with Sport England to promote more active childhoods. Through the OPAL programme, we are hoping to improve opportunities for physical activity, socialisation, co-operation, coordination, resilience, creativity, imagination and enjoyment through improved play in our school.
OPAL is based on the idea that as well as learning through good teaching, your children also learn when they play, and as 20% of their time in school is playtime, we want to make sure that this amount of time (equivalent to 1.4 years of primary school) is as good as possible.
We strongly believe that: "Play is freely chosen, personally directed, intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child. Play can be fun or serious. Through play children explore social, material and imaginary worlds and their relationship with them, elaborating all the while a flexible range of responses to the challenges they encounter. By playing, children learn and develop as individuals, and as members of the community" (Play Council 2001).
Why did we choose to join the OPAL programme?
One reason the school is carrying out this programme is that childhood has changed, and many children no longer get their play needs met out of school. For example, research shows that now:
- Average screen time per day 5 hours
- Average outdoor play time per week 5 hours.
- Percentage of UK children who only play outdoors with other children at school 56%.
There are many proven benefits for schools which carry out the OPAL Programme. They usually include: more enjoyment of school, less teaching time lost to disputes between children, fewer accidents and greatly improved behaviour.
Play is not messing about. It is the process evolution has come up with to enable children to learn all of the things that cannot be taught, while also feeling like it is fun. There are certain things children must have in order to be able to play. These include:
- Having clothes that you can play in
- Having things to play with
- Having a certain amount of freedom
Children may get a bit messier, be exposed to more challenges and have greater freedoms to play where, with whom and how they like. The experiences the school is fostering are essential for children’s physical and mental well-being and healthy and in line with all current good practice advice on health safety, well-being and development.
We are currently looking for donations of the following items.....
We are always grateful for contributions of loose parts that can enhance play. If you have any of the items below, or others you can think of, in good, safe condition, please see a member of staff.
The items we are looking for at the moment will enable us to enjoy a wider range of play experiences during playtime:
⭐️ Suitcases of any size and type
⭐️ Anything on wheels/castors
⭐️ Plastic milk crates
⭐️ Briefcases, especially hard cased ones
⭐️ Kitchen pots, pans, baking trays, worktables, wooden spoons, chopping boards
⭐️ Tools like spades, trowels and brooms
⭐️ Tubes/ guttering of various sizes and various materials
⭐️ Fabric (large sheets/brightly coloured fabric)
⭐️ Pegs (to help to set up dens)
⭐️ Wooden blocks, small logs
⭐️ Bike tyres
⭐️ Wooden reels
...... The list is as long as your imagination.
Thank you for supporting playtimes that are fun, engaging, exciting, interesting and challenging.