OPAL Playtimes and Lunchtimes

A message from our Curricular Lead for Play (OPAL Lead) Mrs Pilkington:

Our vision for playtime and lunchtimes is that every child in school has an amazing hour of high-quality play every day – with no exceptions. If one child is not enjoying playtimes, then things still need improving.

At Middleforth we firmly believe that playtime and lunctimes should have the same educational value that learning times does. 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. Therefore we have taken the decision to embark on a new journey with OPAL. We only launched OPAL at school in October 2023 but the so far the children are loving it. 

Each week, the children have a play assembly where they discuss any new areas which have been introduced and and discuss any possible risks and how they might manage them. The children are also taking a leading role in helping us to develop our whole school environment to ensure we all make the most of the wonderful natural resources we have available to us. 

If you would like to know anymore information about OPAL, please contact Miss Lowe through the school office as she is our play co-ordinator. 

Updates from our Play Co-ordinator Miss Lowe:

What is OPAL? Outdoor Play and Learning at Middleforth Primary School!
Research shows that play contributes to children’s physical and emotional health, well-being, approach to learning and enjoyment of school. Given the importance of play in children’s lives and current concerns about children’s health and opportunity to access time and space to initiate their own play outdoors, there are considerable benefits for children, parents, school and the wider community from participating in OPAL's programme. The OPAL Primary Programme supports schools in developing a cultural shift in thinking about and supporting children’s play.

What are the benefits of the OPAL Primary Programme?
• More teaching time - happier, more creative and well exercised children who settle in class much more quickly.
• Improved behaviour - decrease in the use of behaviour policies and less time spent resolving playtime issues.
• Faster core skills development - children develop creativity, imagination, co-operation, resilience, stamina and confidence.
• Inclusion - makes play better for every child, every day... no exceptions!
• Happiness and wellbeing – children feel less stressed, happier and more excited about school.

Phase 1 (October 2023) – we introduced a mud kitchen area, small world toys and activities, plastic building bricks, chalk and easels, dressing up clothes and a stage for role play and encouraged den making using plastic crates.

Phase 2 (November and December 2023) – we added tyres, trolleys and carts, encouraged den making using wood, introduced planks of wood and pallets for den making and obstacle courses and opened a playground sandpit.

Phase 3 will start in January 2024.

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Middleforth Primary School

Hill Road South
Off Marshall's Brow

T: 01772 746024

E: bursar@middleforth.lancs.sch.uk

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