"Elveden C of E Primary School has just achieved Platinum award status from OPAL Outdoor Play and Learning. This means that they are in the top 0.5% of UK schools for the quality of the play they provide for all their children. The school has demonstrated that it takes the UNCRC Article 31, the child's right to play, seriously and is implementing all stages of school improvement in relation to play, including policy, planning, resourcing, staffing and evaluation." Michael Follett BA Hons Ed, PGCE OPAL Founder and Director
Outdoor Play and Learning Intent
Elveden C of E Primary Academy is committed to providing a high quality educational experience for all our pupils and our Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) provision is no exception. As a Church School, we have five clear aims which are inextricably intertwined with our Christian vision, mission statement, physical and mental well-being and Building Learning Power.
*Ready to learn: Children have a positive, confident attitude to learning. They are both physically and emotionally ready to learn.
*Reciprocal: Children are prepared to help each other and work as a team.
*Resourceful: Children show initiative, ask well thought out questions and are prepared to use a variety of strategies to learn.
*Reflective: Children are curious, able and willing to learn from their mistakes and can describe their progress.
*Resilient: Children are prepared to persevere and stay involved in their learning, even when the process is challenging.
Our OPAL sessions provide a safe, stimulating, flexible, diverse and nurturing play environment through the use of playful resources. These aims are effectively interwoven within the free play ideology. In our outdoor play zones our children can acquire new skills such as taking risks, building resilience, making autonomous choices about their play processes and experiences and engage in initiating free play with others. In addition to this, our OPAL sessions actively encourage all learning styles and uncover ‘multiple intelligences’ in our children, which support their holistic development.
Our OPAL sessions enrich and enhance all areas of the curriculum. OPAL sessions take place daily at lunchtimes for all our children. The children chose their zones for play and all years groups play together. This provision provides them with an array of engaging play environments, integrated loose part resources and optimum play opportunities. Our OPAL aims to meet the intent of the curriculum through holistic and child led learning. We value and follow all Playwork principles; we advocate play, for our children’s time, space and permission to play. Our children’s play is freely chosen, self-directed and intrinsically motivated. Through the observance of play and reflective practice, our OPAL Play Team support and facilitate the Bob Hughes Taxonomy of 16 play types.
We follow the schools BLP aims and Christian Values throughout our play sessions, so that our children are empowered to ‘Let their light shine” as they play.
We also follow the Health and Safety Executive guidance to ensure a balanced approach to risk and play and we are extremely mindful not to stem the flow of play or impact it in a negative way.
Through the implementation of OPAL, we have seen our children become more confident and resilient learners, who are also more inquisitive about the world around them. During discussions with children and parents and through pupil perception evidence, OPAL has become a key element that has had a positive impact, not only on the physical and mental well-being of our children and staff, but its impact can be seen to resonate within our classroom environments too.