OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning)

Opal-Logo-2021-1 - St Julian's Church School

Our Play Charter

What is OPAL?

We have recently started a programme to improve opportunities for physical activity, socialisation, co-operation, coordination, resilience, creativity, imagination and enjoyment through improved play. It is an 18-24 month programme so watch this space for updates and progress.

The OPAL Outdoor Play and Learning Programme is the result of 17 years testing and development in over 250 schools and is now used in Canada and New Zealand as well as across the UK. Work has started to adapt the programme for schools in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Austria. In 2018 OPAL won first prize in an EU funded award for the best active school’s programme in Europe.

It is based on the idea that as well as learning through good teaching, your children also learn when they play, and 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.

 

Why are we following the OPAL programme?

One reason we are carrying out this programme is that childhood has changed and many children no longer get their play need met out of school.

  • Average screen time per day 5 hours
  • Average outdoor play time per week 5 hours
  • Percentage of UK children who only play outdoor with other children at school 56%

There are many proven benefits for schools which carry out the OPAL Programme. They usually include: more enjoyment of school, less teaching time lost to disputes between children, less accidents and greatly improved behaviour.

 

The Benefits of Play

1. Children learn through their play.

Don’t underestimate the value of play. Children learn and develop:

  • cognitive skills – like math and problem solving in a pretend grocery store
  • physical abilities – like balancing blocks and running on the playground
  • new vocabulary – like the words they need to play with toy dinosaurs
  • social skills – like playing together in a pretend car wash
  • literacy skills – like creating a menu for a pretend restaurant

 

2. Play is healthy.

Play helps children grow strong and healthy. It also counteracts obesity issues facing many children today.

 

3. Play reduces stress.

Play helps your children grow emotionally. It is joyful and provides an outlet for anxiety and stress.

 

4. Play is more than meets the eye.

Play is simple and complex.  There are many types of play: symbolic, sociodramatic, functional, and games with rules-–to name just a few. Researchers study play’s many aspects:  how children learn through play, how outdoor play impacts children’s health, the effects of screen time on play, to the need for recess in the school day.

 

5. Make time for play.

As parents, you are the biggest supporters of your children’s learning. You can make sure they have as much time to play as possible during the day to promote cognitive, language, physical, social, and emotional development.

 

6. Play and learning go hand-in-hand.

They are not separate  activities. They are intertwined. Think about them as a science lecture with a lab. Play is the child’s lab.

 

7. Play outside.

Remember your own outdoor experiences of building forts, playing on the beach, sledding in the winter, or playing with other children in the neighbourhood. Make sure your children create outdoor memories too.

 

8. There’s a lot to learn about play.

There’s a lot written on children and play. Here are some NAEYC articles and books about play. David Elkind’s The Power of Play (Da Capo, 2007 reprint) is also a great resource.

 

9. Trust your own playful instincts.

Remember as a child how play just came naturally? Give your children time for play and see all that they are capable of when given the opportunity.

 

10. Play is a child’s context for learning.

Children practice and reinforce their learning in multiple areas during play. It gives them a place and a time for learning that cannot be achieved through completing a worksheet. For example, in playing restaurant, children write and draw menus, set prices, take orders, and  make out checks.  Play provides rich learning opportunities and leads to children’s success and self-esteem.

 

How Can You Help?

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, while also feeling like it is fun. There are certain things children must have in order to be able to play. These include:

  • Having clothes that you can play in
  • Having things to play with
  • Having a certain amount of freedom

As the school improves play opportunities for your children, you may find the school is asking you for resources and is making changes about how the children use the school grounds. They may use more of the grounds, for more of the year. Your children may get a bit messier, be exposed to more challenges and have greater freedoms to play where, with whom and how they like. The experiences the school is fostering are essential for children’s physical and mental well-being and healthy and in line with all current good practice advice on health safety, well-being and development.

 

More information

You will be able to learn all about OPAL and watch several videos about the programme on the OPAL website: www.outdoorplayandleaning.org.uk.

 

Meet Our OPAL Team

Meet Our Play Detectives

  • COMING SOON….

 

OPAL Bingo Class Competitions

We hope you are as excited as we are for our new ground plans to help us develop and improve play at Roby Park. To help resource some of our key areas, we need your help! Can you help us by seeing if you, your friends, family or neighbours have any of the items on your child’s class bingo card that are surplus to requirement and would be happy to donate? Classes who collectively complete their bingo cards will win a prize, with an additional prize for collecting the star items!

Check out your child’s class bingo cards below:

 

 

Our OPAL Dream

Read more about the benefits of each of our areas here:

Our 2023-24 OPAL Action Plan

Half Termly OPAL Newsletters

 

OPAL Play Assemblies

 

Risk Benefit Register

 

Key Documents

 

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OPAL Programme Chatter

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Our New Reading Shed

08-05-2024

Our new Reading Shed has arrived in our quiet zone. Children will be able to enjoy a range of fiction and non fiction books purchased with money raised through our reading sponsored event. We have also purchased Tonies for children who want to enjoy audible stories 

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OPAL Club

08-05-2024

Our Thursday

club is so popular that we have opened up an extra 30 places! If your child would like to stay and have an extra hour of fun in a safe environment, get them signed up. Please don’t forget children need wellies for them not to miss out on the field fun!

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Y5 English

04-05-2024

Year 5 always enjoy learning outside and Thursday was no exception. We examined and discussed who these objects belonged to then made a prediction as to what our story could be about. #RPEnglish

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Y4 OPAL

04-05-2024

We had an amazing start the summer term with a day of play! The children discussed how they wanted to use the play equipment, focusing on potential risks & benefits before getting out & testing it for themselves. Lots of fun was had by all @OPAL_CIC #OPALSchools #RPPlay

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YR OPAL

04-05-2024

What a fantastic start to the term. We explored all our new, amazing equipment. We talked about how to use equipment safely, and how we manage ourselves during play. The children had lots of fun!

#RPPlay

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YN OPAL

04-05-2024

What a fantastic start to the Summer term! We launched our new @OPAL_CIC resources! From tree swings to den building to small world… WOW! We can’t wait for every playtime to look like this! #RPEnrichment

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Y5 OPAL

04-05-2024

What a fantastic start to the new term! The focus of the day was PLAY. Children discussed the benefits and potential risks of each play area before going out and testing each area. Year 5 especially enjoyed making mud pies!

#PlanForPlay #OPALSchools #RPplay

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Y3 OPAL

04-05-2024

Today we had an amazing time launching our new @OPAL_CIC resources. We climbed, made mud potions, played with small world pieces, used a parachute, built obstacle courses and more. We can’t wait to use these every day! #RPEnrichment

 

 

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OPAL Extra-Curricular Clubs

04-05-2024

Don’t miss out on being part of something amazing! Our  @OPAL_CIC extra curricular clubs start next week and you can secure your place on Parent Booking. Check out the fun children have had this week alone!

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Cash4Kids Colour Run

04-05-2024

Our annual colour run is back and all in aid of @cashforkidsliv who do an incredible job to support children in our school community cashforkidsgive.co.uk/campaign/sam-t

 

Please share the sponsor link far and wide to raise as much money as we can for this wonderful charity! Thank you for your support!

 

Please see the letter detailing the arrangements for the day: robyparkprimary.co.uk/wp-content/upl

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Y2 OPAL Day

04-05-2024

Amazing to start the summer term with a day of play! The children discussed how they wanted to use the play equipment, focusing on potential risks & benefits before getting out & testing it for themselves. Lots of fun was had by all @OPAL_CIC #PlanForPlay #OPALSchools #RPPlay

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Y1 OPAL Day

04-05-2024

We kicked off summer term launching our new @OPAL_CIC resources and what an amazing day we’ve had! Tree swings, mud kitchen, crates, tyres, pallets, swings, den building, small world & role play to name a few! We are so excited for every playtime to look like this!

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Y6 OPAL Day

04-05-2024

Today we enjoyed exploring our incredible @OPAL_CIC resources! We tackled tree obstacles, got creative in the mud kitchen and used team work skills during den building, to name a few

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OPAL Day

04-05-2024

It may be wet and windy but the children are having a fantastic time putting everything from their play assemblies into action with all the new resources @OPAL_CIC

https://x.com/RobyParkSchool/status/1779801873937022991 

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OPAL Day

04-05-2024

We are excited to see all of the chn back for an exciting start of term tomorrow. Doors open at 8.40am. Just a polite reminder to send chn into school in their school PE tracksuit, trainers and warm coat for our @OPAL_CIC launch day tomorrow.

 

Chn will get to experience and enjoy all of our new resources. Chn must have their wellies with them to go on the field. Wellies will stay in school so please wear trainers and bring wellies in a bag. Keep an eye out on all of our socials to see what fun the children get up to.

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OPAL Bingo – Deadline 15.4.24

13-04-2024

Don’t forget the deadline for our @OPAL_CIC bingo competition is this Mon. Please feel free to get friends, family & neighbours involved! The more, the merrier. Please send all resources through to class with your child so your child’s class teacher can mark them off.

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OPAL Day – Mon 15th April

13-04-2024

To launch all of our exciting new @OPAL_CIC resources, we are going to host a launch day this Mon for the chn. All chn need to come in to school wearing their PE kits and trainers, with their wellies also to keep in school. Children are only allowed on the field with wellies.

Check out all the new resources your children will love to play with as of this Monday, in our latest newsletter: https://robyparkprimary.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/OPAL-Newsletter-April-2024-2-1.pdf

The weather is predicting a few showers throughout Monday but rain doesn’t stop us so please make sure your child has a suitable coat with them.

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OPAL Update

13-04-2024

We have been so busy getting ready for the upcoming term that we couldn’t wait to share with you feedback from our

@OPAL_CIC surveys, what is coming this half term & an invite to our Parent Play Day in May. Check it all out here: https://robyparkprimary.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/OPAL-Newsletter-April-2024-2-1.pdf
If you financially can not afford to buy your child wellies, please email familysupport@robyparkprimary.co.uk and we can see if there is any possibility of financial support.
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OPAL Newsletter

13-04-2024

Our latest @OPAL_CIC newsletter is out now. Check it out here: https://robyparkprimary.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/OPAL-Newsletter-April-2024.pdf

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New Welly Stores Have Arrived!

31-03-2024

All of our new welly stores and benches have been delivered and are in place, awaiting your child’s wellies! Please make sure your child has a labelled pair of wellies in school as of 15th April. Wellies will remain in school. Thank you.

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Y1 Forest School

31-03-2024

For forest school with @Littfoothq we had to build structures that were strong enough to withstand challenges of Joe trying to knock them down. We discovered that the strongest towers aren’t always the tallest and need a really strong base!  #RPEnrichment

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EYFS Gardening Club

31-03-2024

We had a fantastic last session! We worked with partners to plant some pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. The children have been fantastic this half term and have loved gardening club with Mr Lyon! We can’t wait to see it all begin to grow!

 

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Summer Term1 Extra-curricular Clubs

31-03-2024

Summer term extra curricular clubs are live on Parent Booking at midday today. Please note our @OPAL_CIC play sessions are family events and parents/carers are to accompany their child. Younger siblings are welcome but are the responsibility of parents/carers

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#GBClean

31-03-2024

This week we have continued helping with our litter picking, with lots of little helpers to ensure our playground is litter free. The children have have really enjoyed helping out and are determined to keep our school clean! Well done everybody!

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Y4 Daily Mile

23-03-2024

After completing our last maths assessment, it was time to get active and complete the @_thedailymile

#DailyMile #RPWellbeing

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OPAL Bingo

23-03-2024

BINGO TIME! Each class that completes their class bingo card wins a class prize! The class that collects the most of the star item wins an additional prize to be enjoyed by all the class. Why not have a sort out this Easter and see how you can help?

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We Need Your Wellies!

23-03-2024

Please make sure your child has wellies to keep in school, no later than Mon 15th Apr. Children can only go on the field in wellies if the grounds are wet and we do not want anyone to miss out on all of the exciting play opportunities coming this Easter.

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Our OPAL Dream

23-03-2024

Check our OPAL dream for our grounds. We want to provide the best opportunities for play and so we have been working very hard behind the scenes. Exciting things are coming in the Summer term

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#GBClean

17-03-2024

As part of The Great Big School Clean we have been collecting litter from the school grounds and local area. The children have loved looking after their environment.  #TheGreatBigSchoolClean

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Fantastic Fundraising Efforts

17-03-2024

WOW! We have raised £379.20 for brand new books from our sponsored reading event and £104 for @comicrelief. Books will be going into our new reading shed for children to enjoy at playtimes. Thank you so much! @OPAL_CIC

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OPAL Update

17-03-2024

Meet members of our play team who are committed to ensuring children are enjoying the play experiences they want 

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OPAL Update

17-03-2024

Here is our action plan for how we are working to develop play over this academic year. Check out our Opal page on the website for all up to date information: https://robyparkprimary.co.uk/curriculum-2/opalprogramme/

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EYFS Gardening Club

17-03-2024

Today we have been working on our digging skills. We worked really hard and supported each other to dig out all of the weeds, even the really big ones!

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Outdoor Classroom Day

17-03-2024

We are excited to participate in @OutdoorClassUKI on 23rd May and coincide this with our first parent @OPAL_CIC

parent play day.

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OPAL Update

17-03-2024

Check out our new  @OPAL_CIC page on our website where you will find all things ‘play’. Have a read of our launch newsletter and the Power of Playtime booklet. Coming soon…meet our Play Team and UKS2 Play Detectives!

OPAL Programme

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Save the Date – Cash 4 Kids Day 2024

17-03-2024

Save the date! Parents & carers get limbering up and ready to get filthy! Our colour run is back for the 4th year running and again this year, we are choosing to support @cashforkidsliv and @hitsradiouk with @SamThompsonUK

More details to come around Easter. 

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OPAL – Large Loose Parts Needed

17-03-2024

Can you help?

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Competition Time – Parents, We Need You!

09-03-2024

We need parents and carers to take 2 mins to complete our playtime survey!

Click here: https://forms.gle/ysHDq715T95rwe827

The class with the most responses will win an incredible prize!

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Easter Holiday Club

09-03-2024

Our Easter Holiday Club is back for YR-Y6, running from 2nd-12th April. Sessions run from 9.00-3.00pm and cost £12.50 per day. Children need to bring a packed lunch, water bottle and raincoat. Select your days and make payment on Parent Pay #RPEnrichment

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Newsletter

03-03-2024

 Check out our latest newsletter #RPNEWS robyparkprimary.co.uk/wp-content/upl

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EYFS Gardening Club

03-03-2024

The children have loved their first gardening club with Mr Lyon. We have planted carrots, cabbages and some broccoli! We can’t wait to see them start to sprout

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OPAL Programme – Parent & Carer Survey

03-03-2024

We are looking at our playtimes and thinking about how we can improve them by introducing the @OPAL_CIC

Programme. Can you help? We really want to know what you think of playtimes now – please complete this 2 minute survey. Thank you.  forms.gle/dsLcU5m7AB3ea6

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We need socks!

25-02-2024

The children are loving the sandpit which is a great addition to playtimes and our curriculum. Please can we ask parents/carers to put additional socks in children’s bags incase they get wet in the sandpit during the colder/wetter months? Thank you

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OPAL

25-02-2024

Y2 have decided that the gigantic sandpit is a great addition to playtimes @RobyParkSchool. One child said, “Playing in the sandpit with my friends was the best! Our school is so much fun.”

#OPALPlay #OPALSchools #RPPlay

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We Need You!

25-02-2024

We are looking for parents/carers who want to get involved in supporting our  @OPAL_CIC journey as we continue to develop our love of play and the quality of opportunity to play across the school. If you want to get involved, please call the office on 477 8430. Thank you.

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Surprise!

25-02-2024

Surprise! Look at our gigantic sandpit! we are loving our @OPAL_CIC journey and look forward to the many more additions to come which will help develop our love of play at Roby Park!

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