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OPAL Play Project

We are currently involved with a programme to improve the great opportunities we already have in place for physical activity, socialisation, co-operation, coordination, resilience, creativity, imagination and enjoyment through improved play.

The OPAL Outdoor Play and Learning Programme is the result of 17 years testing and development in over 500 schools and is now used in Canada, France and New Zealand as well as across the UK. Work has started to adapt the programme for schools in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Austria. In 2018 OPAL won first prize in an EU funded award for the best active school’s programme in Europe and two UK national playwork awards.

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.

One reason we are carrying out this programme is that childhood has changed, and many children no longer get their play needs met out of school. 

  • Average screen time per day 5 hours

  • Average outdoor play time per week 5 hours

  • Percentage of UK children who only play outdoor 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, less 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

As we improve play opportunities for your children, we will be developing resources and the grounds so that children have outdoor access throughout the year. The experiences we are fostering are essential for children’s physical health and mental well-being and are in line with all current good practice advice on health safety, well-being and development.

We will be supported by OPAL for 18 months and there will be an opportunity to come and talk to someone from OPAL during 2022. If you would like to learn more about the OPAL Primary Programme, please have a look at the OPAL website.

https://outdoorplayandlearning.org.uk/the-opal-primary-programme/

 

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