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Opal Play - Outdoor Play & Learning

 

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Mission Statement

"OPAL's mission is to ensure that every schoolchild has an amazing playtime every day with no exceptions."

What is OPAL?

Research has shown that children spend 20% of their time in school playing. To ensure that this time and our fantastic school grounds are used to their full potential our school has adopted an OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) philosophy that allows the children freedom to explore play in their own imaginative ways, often using found and gathered resources in the natural outdoor environment.

An OPAL approach promotes a more inclusive play environment in which all children can feel comfortable to express themselves. Our OPAL journey began in Spring 2017 and since this time, we have quickly transformed our outdoor environment. Our children love the new outdoor opportunities that OPAL offers with so much more for them to do, no matter the weather! From playing with tyres and digging in the sand pit, to enjoying imaginative play in the small world area or cooking up a storm in the mud kitchen, OPAL offers an exciting alternative to the standard playground activities.

Through this approach to play children are not only more active at lunch or break times, but they are also having the opportunity to further develop life skills such as cooperation, team work and problem solving. They are becoming motivated and enthusiastic builders, engineers, explorers and designers.

Our story so far.......

When we first started the children were given the full field to explore. They enjoyed: adventuring in the Wonder Woods;
finding branches and logs to make into dens; relaxing in the seating areas; making fantasy worlds and collecting sticks from around the area. 

They have loved playing with the crates and tarpaulin and they impressed us with their creativity-stacking them, building dens,
making assault courses, placing planks from one to another and carefully walking across. We have watched as the children have started to take controlled risks, making bridges that they have set at a height that has provided a challenge as they have crossed from one side to the other. 

For those children who just love getting mucky, we have just had a new water/mud are completed over Half Term and there is the mud kitchen where they can create mud pies, make big muddy holes and make their own concoctions.  Thanks to the brilliant fundraising event that took place last term we have been able to purchase water proofs for children to ensure that their clothes are protected

We have recently added a water wall and bird feeders using some of the bottles that have been sent into school. It is fascinating to watch how the different ages approach this area. The children have loved pouring the water, using the hose and watching as the water travels along the bottles. The older children started off doing similar things, but quickly moved their thinking along as to how they could purify the water and created a system to see how they could achieve their goal

This is only the beginning of our journey and we are now ready to develop this further. We are hoping to add the following features soon: 

  • Build a music wall, using the pots and pans, cooling wire racks, tins, pipes and other items that have been provided. 

  • Develop a Sand pit area next to the boat.  (Any suggestions or parents who have a business related to this would be greatly appreciated)

  • Purchase a canopy for the KS1 yard for a shaded area on sunny days (Any suggestions or parents who have a business related to this would be greatly appreciated)

  • Remove and re-do line markings on both yards (Any suggestions or parents who have a business related to this would be greatly appreciated)

Our goal

Our goal is that regardless of gender, race, ability or location – every child should have access to outstanding play opportunities every school day of their lives. We hope that you will become part of this story and work with us to realise this vision.

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What are community think

We are grateful to our parent ambassadors, Gavin Tempest and Helen Hill for their support.

From bikes to balls, wooden climbing structures to spoons, and figurines of dinosaurs lost, the outdoor play and learning (OPAL) provision at King’s Priory School is fuelling fun and physical activity during school playtimes. Following generous donations of from parents, friends of the school, and local businesses, the pupils are enjoying using their imagination whilst navigating through carefully planned play zones across the site. From our playground visits, we have seen the enormous commitment staff have made to design and safely implement OPAL provisions to transform the playground landscape. The pupils appear to relish the freedom that they have during their classroom breaks and the resources available to stimulate their play. As the saying goes, ‘What is one person’s rubbish, is the pupils of King’s Priory’s School treasure’.

If you have any donations to help support OPAL please get in touch with Mrs Lloyd or drop them into the school office.


"I had the pleasure of visiting Kings Priory School as I was interested in their OPAL journey as both a parent and a fellow educational practitioner. The environment Mrs Stewart, Mrs Lloyd and her team have created for the first school children is wonderful. What especially stood out to me was how all donated items have not just been used meaningfully and safely, by staff, but are also being used with a truly child led focus. Children are of course supported and monitored by staff, but are also given the opportunity to be creative, curious and imaginative with their resources. From the reception children playing tug of war (whilst clambering in and out of a retired row-boat!) and mixed age groups enjoying football and tennis to small world areas, chill out rooms and wheeled zones there really is something for every child. Everyone was engaged and most importantly - happy, safe and having fun! Well done KPS, you should be very proud of what has been created - and thanks so much for sharing it with me! "

Ms A Northin

 

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