What is OPAL?
The Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) Primary Programme will help us here at St Joseph's to strategically and sustainably improve the quality of our play opportunities to enable all children to have fantastic playtimes.
The OPAL Primary Programme is the only programme of its kind that has been independently proven to sustainably improve the quality of play in British primary schools.
The OPAL Primary Programme supports schools in developing a cultural shift in thinking about and supporting children’s play.
Why is play so important?
During the last 2 years our pupils have lost out on lots of opportunities for play and cooperation. We have seen an increase in the number of pupils who are finding it difficult to form strong friendships, communicate their thoughts effectively and resolve conflicts when they arise. Through our OPAL play work we aim to significantly impact on these areas.
Incredibly, children in British primary schools spend 20% (the equivalent of 1.4 years) of their time at school in play, so it’s a really important part of the school day. Through their play, all children encounter, explore and make sense of the world and their place within it. Play can improve a child’s:
health and wellbeing
understanding of risk and challenge
resilience and character.
When they are really playing, children will use their entire body and exercise every part of their mind.
The OPAL programme rationale is that “…better, more active and creative playtimes can mean happier and healthier children. Having happier, healthier, more active children usually results in a more positive attitude to learning in school, with more effective classroom lessons, less staff time spent resolving unnecessary behavioural problems, fewer playtime accidents, happier staff and a healthier attitude to life.”