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Lea and Garsdon Church of England Primary School

Lea & Garsdon CE Primary School Healthy trees bearing good fruit

- Matthew 7:17

OPAL Outdoor Play and Learning

OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) at

Lea and Garsdon C of E Primary School


Here at Lea and Garsdon C of E Primary School, we are committed to ensuring quality play opportunities are available to all our children. We believe that play is essential for physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual development of each child. For many, most of their best childhood memories are from playing outdoors, climbing trees and exploring the wide world around them. OPAL gives us the opportunity to give these memories to all the children. OPAL is all about using naturally and man-made resources to allow children to be inspired and creative at playtime. An OPAL approach promotes a more inclusive play environment in which all children can feel comfortable to express themselves.


Research shows that children's mental and physical health is getting worse and that great play can make it better. During seven years at primary school, children spend 1.4 years at play. It is important to us, that this is time well spent, where the children can thrive and be happy! With all this in mind, we started our journey with the OPAL programme in the summer of 2022, meeting our OPAL mentor and took part in our first development day. Then, the tyres arrived on the playground and our playtimes were transformed.


What is outdoor learning play?


Playing, learning and having fun outdoors helps improve wellbeing and resilience, increased health through physical activity, provides children with the opportunity to develop a life-long appreciation of the natural world and has a positive impact on educational attainment.


What are the benefits of Opal play?


  • All children are able to engage in fun activities at playtime.
  • Improves Mental Health.
  • Research shows OPAL children are happier.
  • Social and emotional development - Quality play  life where relationships are practised.
  • Links to formal learning - increased creativity, imagination and collaborative skills.
  • Through the OPAL approach to play children are not only more active at playtime, 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 OPAL mean for us?


  • Happier children
  • Children coming into class ready to learn
  • A fully inclusive playtime
  • It allows children an opportunity to be creative and make decisions
  • Children develop independence and resilience skills
  • Increased social skills (there is a great mix of all ages playing together)
  • …. and most importantly fun!


“Since we’ve had OPAL playtimes it has changed everything. Playtimes are now so much fun.” Year 2


The children said that OPAL playtimes help them feel:


happy, fulfilled, peaceful, excited, part of a big family, proud, satisfied, energetic


They say that they are able to:


work together, form a community, share, solve problems, be creative, be kind, inspire others


The children notice that their OPAL playtimes are:


  • A playground dazzling with smiles
  • I’ve made so many Yr6 memories in just one playtime
  • Children smiling from ear to ear
  • You can see and hear real joy
  • It is a playground full of happiness
  • A lovely family feel with everyone together
  • Freedom
  • There is so much to do
  • If you start to feel sad, you don’t need to sit around, you can play as there is so much to do
  • We could be queens and princesses
  • Being able to be with all ages is amazing
  • I am able to be myself


How can you help?


Resources are key, these are often items people would otherwise be getting rid of. Please do consider what you might be able to donate for the children to be creative with. Here is a list of just some items that would be great:


  • Pushchairs
  • Dressing up clothes
  • PVC pipes / drain pipes
  • Crates
  • Fabric for den building
  • Rolling carriers
  • Trikes
  • Wheeled office chairs
  • Wheels
  • Suitcases / briefcases
  • Planks of wood
  • Old plastic small world toys e.g. animals
  • Child friendly garden tools

Before bringing items in to school please speak to one of the OPAL Team.

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