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 spring of 2019 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 have developed the OPAL approach and worked with our school community to improve our play provision. Our school grounds are impressive with two traditional play yards, a MUGA and large field. Traditionally some of these spaces have been underused however through our OPAL project our school site is being transformed to offer the highest quality play experiences whatever the weather.
The school site has been divided into rainbow coloured zones and fundamental to our approach is that children have the opportunity to play wherever they want, with whoever they want. 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 are very 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 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, creating dens, new recipes in the mud kitchen, digging in the sand, creating games with small world toys or zipping round the yard on the scooters. 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.
#We love OPAL!
The school 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 Play Policy
OPAL at Knoplaw!
This video shows the start of our journey of OPAL discovery: