OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning)
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. An OPAL approach promotes a more inclusive play environment in which all children can feel comfortable to express themselves.
Our OPAL journey began in October 2022 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 climbing trees, 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.
What does this mean for us
Children coming into class ready to learn
OPAL schools have up to 80% less reported accidents
A fully inclusive playtime offer
It allows children an opportunity to be creative and make decisions
Children develop independence and resilience skills
Increased social skills
…. and most importantly fun!
What our children think?
Really fun, we can go on all of the fields, and we have lots of things to do. YR 5 child Very good- I love it! We get time to speak to teachers and they play with us. Also, we can see all of the younger children and help them, and they can play with us. YR 6 child It is amazing! We get to explore and do lots of things around our school. YR 3 child
'I like that we can play with all the different equipment, in the winter me and my friends made our own ice factory in the den building area' - YR 3 child
'My favorite thing about OPAL is the equipment on the top playground like the space hoppers, scooters, pogo hoppers and stilts' - YR 3 Child
'Before OPAL started we could only use the playgrounds when the field was muddy but now we can go on the field and in the woods all the time with our wellies on' - YR 6 Child
'I love all the equipment I can play with and build dens on the field' - YR 2 Child
How does it work at Brockswood?
Children in the school have the freedom to play where they choose within the school grounds.
A variety of zones, stations, equipment, activities and areas are available to the children and these may vary each day depending on what the children choose to do
Equipment and Zones could include (but are not limited to):
- Scooters, pogo hoppers, trolleys, space hoppers and other means of transport/travel
- Tyres and planks
- Mud Cafe and kitchen
- Digging area
- Small world (e.g. dinosaurs, cars, fantasy world)
- Hoops, balls, skipping ropes
- Sports zone (e.g. football; bench-ball; netball; cricket) including those run by Sports Leaders from Years 5 and 6
- Big chalk boards and bubbles
- Crates, containers and cardboard boxes (e.g. for den building or whatever the children choose to do)
- Tree climbing or puddle jumping
- Performing (e.g. music, drama, dressing up)
Children are asked to be responsible for the equipment and tidying it away at the end of the session
Children are allowed to roam and so wellies and coats are recommended (they then change into their indoor shoes when coming back to class)
The OPAL Play Team (which includes Governors, Senior Leaders, Staff and Parents) regularly reviews the OPAL project to make sure it continues to be effective, safe and exciting for all children
We have regular Play Assemblies where we celebrate great play, introduce new activities or equipment and remind the children about any rules or expectations.
What we’ve been up to?
Take a look at the photos below to get an idea of all the fantastic things the children have been up to and just how much fun they are having…