OPAL

Outdoor, Play and Learning is a programme started by Michael Follett to dramatically improve the playtimes of children in Primary schools.

Children spend approximately 1.5 hours a day playing and eating, this is more than they are timetabled for maths.  We wanted to use this time to build children’s communication skills, resilience and creativity.  In 2014 we started to change our approach to play and the playground, with the help of Michael Follett.  The first move was to allow the children to use the whole of the site to play and to give the children the responsibility of risk assessing what was safe for themselves and others.  Next we looked at the areas we have across the school and made small changes to provide areas for sitting and chatting, playing with small world characters, digging and den building, an office space and of course the ‘Messy Kitchen’.

We provide the children with open-ended equipment, such as fabric for dressing up or building dens, building equipment and house ware.  The children can then use their creative imaginations to use the equipment to support their play, developing their games, discussing their ideas, negotiating with their friends.  At the end of playtime the children tidy everything away, to start again the next play.

The children say:

One of the most popular things on the playground is the Messy Kitchen.  Everybody in the school has enjoyed it and it has encouraged us to be more creative.

….it has helped our play by letting us interact with other children of other age groups.

I really, really love it because I adore getting muddy!

I love playing with the little ones, in the wicker castle, playing knights.