Our OPAL Playground
We are very excited to be undertaking our playground development project with the support from an organisation called OPAL which stands for ‘outdoor play and learning’. This is a strategic improvement programme designed to help us improve opportunities for play and make sure our outdoor environment provides the best range of experiences for the children.
This means that soon our playtimes will be getting even more fun and we hope every child will love them.
We are at the very beginning stage of this project and we held an information Teams Meeting for Parents on 1st March 2023. If you were unable to attend, please see the Teams recording of the meeting below.
To find out more about the importance of playtime and how you can help your child enjoy outdoor play please take a look at the booklet below.
We have developed a Play Policy which can be downloaded below. The policy uses the principles from the Managing risk in play documents published by the Play safety forum. Their position statement can also be downloaded below.
Opal Risk Benefit Assessments
More information about OPAL
Did you know that playtime is about 20% of every child’s day at school? It is also, for many children, one of the few times that they have to play outside regularly with their friends and without devices.
The Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) Primary Programme is the result of over 20 years of testing and development in over 800 schools across the UK and internationally.
OPAL is based on the idea that, as well as learning through good teaching, your children also learn when they play. 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.
There are many proven benefits for schools that carry out the OPAL Primary Programme. They usually include children enjoying school more, more teaching time because there are fewer accidents and arguments, increased physical activity and even children becoming better at maths.
Play is not messing about. It is the process evolution has come up with to enable children to learn all of the things that cannot be taught. That is why it is fun.
There are certain things children must have in order to be able to play. These include:
- clothes that they can play in all year round.
- things to play with.
- a certain amount of freedom.
We will be working with Outdoor People, the non-profit that delivers the OPAL Primary Programme across East London and East Kent, for the next couple of years. They will be leading training, supporting our OPAL working group and mentoring the team to help us make our playtimes amazing.
If you would like to learn more about the OPAL Primary Programme, please have a look at the OPAL website (www.outdoorplayandlearning.org.uk), where you will find lots of useful information. See the YouTube channel (OPALPlaytime) and on Twitter (@OPALCiC) for lots of examples of schools that have the kind of playtimes we want for our children.
Find out more about Outdoor People, the non-profit that runs the OPAL programme across East London and East Kent from their website: https://outdoorpeople.org.uk/
We have already been communicating with parents/carers to ensure that everyone understands our OPAL provision and the changes we make to our playtimes. We have already been receiving some really positive feedback. Please feel free to email the school office with any feedback your child is giving you. Take a look at some of the feedback we have already had about OPAL at our school…
Just to let you know W told me he had the "greatest playtime ever" today making dens and dressing up as a saber-tooth tiger! He was so excited to tell me all about it, which was lovely and such a change for him. Sounds like the opal project is going to be a game changer! - Parent at Windrush Charlton
Our OPAL Journey
February has seen the start of our Opal project. We have had our first Play working party team meeting, where the team discussed how we want to start introducing the OPAL playtimes and made of list of any donations we would need to start the setup. We have also completed an audit of our playtimes and put together our initial action plan.
A survey has been sent out to parents to audit the current views of playtimes (the QR code was sent out last week WB 27/02/23) and we are currently awaiting the results, which will feed into our action plan.
Below are some photographs of what playtime looks like before the OPAL change. Watch this space for further updates on the project...
Before Photos of Our Playground
On Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th March, we have held our first play assembly to explain the project to the children and to introduce some new play opportunities at playtimes.
On Tuesday 7th March, the children experienced the first OPAL playtime. There were lots of different activities going on, including fort building, dressing up and playing in crates. Please see below some of the photographs and videos from the first day.
We are now sourcing further resources to start to create a wider range of activities. We have sent out a Parentmail on 8th March to request some more specific donations that we can use for resources. This includes any adult clothing, costume props and superhero figures.
Our OPAL Playground - March 2023
We are excited to share an update on the development of our school's OPAL Playground, a unique and innovative outdoor learning space designed to promote exploration, creativity, and physical activity among our students. As we progress with the project, we wanted to provide you with a bird's-eye view of each school and highlight the various supervision zones that will be incorporated into the playground.
Windrush Thamesmead Supervision & Zones
Windrush Charlton Supervision & Zones
Throughout the entire playground, we have strategically placed supervision points to ensure student safety. Our dedicated staff members will be positioned in key areas, offering guidance and support while allowing children the freedom to explore and learn at their own pace.
After regular staff working party meetings, we have devised a phased development plan for each site to show what the school's plan is for the next academic year and beyond.
Windrush Thamesmead Phased Development Plan
Windrush Charlton Phased Development Plan
Our OPAL Playground - June 2023
Our OPAL Playground at both sites has really made an improvement already for playtimes and lunchtimes.
Please see some feedback below from our Pupil Voice:
OPAL is fantastic because it makes playtimes & lunchtimes better for the children! Since OPAL was launched, we enjoy playing with things we never had in our playground before. We enjoy playing with things like:
. TIRES (BIG & SMALL)
. NEW MUD KITCHEN
. POLICE CAR
. DRESSING UP
All of the 210+ pupils at Windrush Thamesmead are absolutely enjoying playing and taking care of OPAL equipment. - F in Year 4T
OPAL helps make playtimes better for schools and especially for pupils! OPAL helps both Windrush sites and other schools. In OPAL it helps pupils play with equipment that they had never played with before. OPAL helps with ideas and new ways to enjoy playtimes. Some ideas are wheelie trays, tires, baskets/boxes , more chalk and a MASSIVE car, ballgames, dressing up, pretend shows and more. OPAL helps our 210+ pupils playtimes to have 100% more fun in playtimes. The pupils love playing hide and seek in the tires, they also love playing dress up and going into both playground to have more fun. The pupils also love to go on wheelie tray and pushed on them slowly. - R in Year 4T
Opal helps schools make break times more fun, especially for children. So far, children are loving it. Before Opal we didn’t have much equipment and children didn’t have much to experiment with. Now with Opal children can play and be creative. Also, during Opal we opened the entire playground to everyone which means there is more space and you get to play with other children. In Opal, children can build dens, role play with people and make up games. Also there are wheelie trays, dolls, stuffed animals, tires, mud kitchen and lots more! - I in Year 4T
Our OPAL Playground - Autumn Term 1