OPAL - Outdoor Play & Learning
Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL)
At Devonshire Primary School, our vision is to enable all children to develop, learn and grow through the enriching experiences that we provide them with, both inside and outside of the classroom and at all times of the school day.
To this end, we have developed our approach to become a PLATINUM OPAL school. OPAL stands for Outdoor Play And Learning and is a programme to improve opportunities for physical activity, socialisation, co-operation, coordination, resilience, creativity, imagination and enjoyment through improved play. We are extremely fortunate with the amount of outdoor play space that the children can access so we have embedded the OPAL approach throughout our play spaces at playtimes and lunchtimes.
At lunchtime, our playground is an integrated play space where children from Reception to Year 6 can play together. Having the opportunity to play in any area of the playground enables children to develop different and new friendships, play with their siblings or friends that they have in different year groups. Having access to the whole playground, enables them to explore and play in different ways and have access to all the lunchtime playground equipment.
Our experience so far shows that the majority of children really enjoy this approach. For those less confident we have introduced quiet zones.
For more information about the opal programme visit: https://outdoorplayandlearning.org.uk
We have a team of playworkers who manage the playground and school halls at lunchtime. Our playground is split into zones and each zone has at least one adult in it. They wear high visibility vests so can be easily identified by the children. It is very important that the children talk to a playworker if they need help with something. They are there to support children’s play, solve any issues and ensure that lunchtimes are a fun experience for the children.
On muddy days, when the field is deemed too muddy for general use, we will only allow children onto the field with appropriate clothing including the following: wellies/old Velcro trainers and old tracksuit bottoms or waterproof trousers plus a warm/waterproof coat. These trousers must be able to be easily slipped over school clothing. Children can change in the sheltered designated areas after they have eaten their lunch and can leave their school shoes in their named bag so they can easily change back before the end of lunch. To avoid too much mud and dirty hands going into the dinner hall, children must eat their lunch first before changing and going onto the field.
Muddy days will ensure that the children can play on the field all year round and make use of all of the play spaces we are lucky to have here at Devonshire. Muddier days on the field also offer valuable sensory play opportunities that we know are important to children's development. Extra footwear and clothing will protect the children's uniforms and keep the school building mud free. Please note that it is the children's responsibility to take care of any clothing or footwear brought into school. We appreciate your understanding that these clothes and footwear will get muddy and will require washing and returning to school from time to time. Please help us by clearly naming any bags, clothing and footwear that you send into school. If we notice any unnamed items, your child’s bag will be sent home so that you can name everything.