OPAL Play Project
What is the OPAL project?
Children in British primary schools spend 20% or 1.4 years of their school attendance in play and yet many schools have no strategic or values-based approach to play across all ages.
The Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) Primary Programme is a mentor supported school improvement programme. It addresses all of the areas schools must plan for if they want to strategically and sustainably improve the quality of their play opportunities.
The OPAL Primary Programme is the only programme of its kind that has been independently proven to sustainably improve the quality of play in British primary schools.
Research shows that play contributes to children’s physical and emotional health, well-being, approach to learning and enjoyment of school. Given the importance of play in children’s lives and current concerns about children’s health and opportunity to access time and space to initiate their own play outdoors, there are considerable benefits for children, parents, school and the wider community from participating in OPAL's programme.
The OPAL Primary Programme supports schools in developing a cultural shift in thinking about and supporting children’s play. Its success comes from a series of interrelated actions undertaken with the specialist support from the OPAL mentor. This embeds play into school’s policies and practices and establishes clear guiding principles and strategies for initiating changes at playtimes. The results can be transformational and - at best – spectacular and show progress even in more challenging school environments.
What will it look like?
Over time, our school playground will start to look very different. Expect to see loose parts – such as tyres and planks – for children to make and build things. We will have music, dressing up clothes and small world toys, as well as a mud kitchen and more balls and games. In the longer term, we will be using the whole site throughout the year.
What has happened so far?
We have established a working party consisting of members of staff, a parent and a governor who are working alongside the rest of the school team to change our play. We are ordering and sourcing new equipment and the PTFA have provided the funds for us to buy a new shed for the playground which we will need for all of our loose parts.
How can I get involved?
Over the coming months we will be asking for donations of various loose parts. If you are good at DIY or gardening or would like to get involved in making and building some larger structures for our children, please do get in touch.