Opal - Outdoor Play and Learning
Here at Old Sarum Primary School, we are committed to ensuring all our pupils engage with quality play opportunities. We believe that play is essential for the development of each child, as a result, we have recently started a programme to improve opportunities for physical activity, socialisation, co-operation, coordination, resilience, creativity, imagination and enjoyment through improved play.
What is OPAL?
The OPAL Outdoor Play and Learning Programme is the result of 17 years testing and development in over 250 schools and is now used in Canada and New Zealand as well as across the UK. In 2018 OPAL won first prize in an EU funded award for the best active school’s programme in Europe. It 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.
What are the benefits of play?
1. Children learn through their play.
Don’t underestimate the value of play. Children learn and develop cognitive skills, physical abilities, fitness, new vocabulary, social skills and literacy skills.
2. Play is healthy.
Play helps children grow strong and healthy. It also counteracts obesity issues facing many children today
3. Play reduces stress.
Play helps your children grow emotionally. It is joyful and provides an outlet for anxiety and stress
4. Play is more than meets the eye.
As part of our OPAL provision, we ensure that we plan for and cover all types of play. These include creative/ fantasy/imaginative play, exploratory play, mastery play, object play, communication playing, socio-dramatic play, rough and tumble play, locomotor play.
5. Play and learning go hand-in-hand.
They are not separate activities. They are intertwined. Think about them as a science lecture with a lab. Play is the child’s lab.
6. Play is a child’s context for learning.
Children practice and reinforce their learning in multiple areas during play. It gives them a place and a time for learning that cannot be achieved through completing a worksheet. For example, when playing in the ‘mud café’, children write and draw menus, set prices, take orders, and create the ‘food’. Play provides rich learning opportunities and leads to children’s success and self-esteem.