OPAL

Outdoor
Play
And
Learning

Children at Marton Manor work hard – and because of this, we are committed to offering the opportunity to play hard! We have jusy started our OPAL journey which is helping us to developing high quality, varied and exciting playtimes!

OPAL is an award-winning, mentor supported school improvement programme that addresses all the areas that schools must plan for if they want to strategically and sustainably improve the quality of their play opportunities. OPAL is the only programme of its kind that has been independently proven to sustainably improve the quality of play in British primary schools.

We are committed to ensuring that quality play opportunities are available to all our children and believe that play is essential for physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual development. We are determined that all children will encounter wonderful outdoor play and learning experiences everyday. Our School grounds have so much potential and pre-OPAL were barely being used, the children are so much happier playing in our most wonderful, naturally rich play environment.

From a first glance at our school, you can see that we are an OPAL school… Not only do our children have big smiles, but our lovely site is being developed with a range of play areas and opportunities in order to allow our children to develop their play behaviours, follow their interests and live our school values outside of the classroom.

Whilst it might look like a den to an outsider what our children are experiencing are opportunities to develop resilience, team work, negotiation skills, perseverance, character building skills which are often difficult to teach in the classroom.    

The play zones and social spaces we are developing are exciting, adventurous and fun. Play allows children to be creative, make decisions and manage risk. It provides many opportunities for them to develop their physical, social and communication skills and is invaluable to their emotional well-being.

At Marton Manor, we believe that all children need opportunities to play which allow them to explore, manipulate, experience and affect their environment. As a newly developing OPAL school, we value Outdoor Play and Learning.  The school acknowledges the UN Charter on the Rights of the Child, especially Article 31, and supports the child’s right to play. We believe play provision should be:

Welcoming and accessible to every child, irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, economic or social circumstances, ethnic or cultural background or origin, or individual abilities.

The key areas of our school site which have been developed with OPAL principles in mind are:

  • A chill out caravan
  • A wildlife pond
  • Tree climbing areas
  • A dressing up zone
  • Music and performance zones
  • Quieter seating areas around the school site
  • Quiet activity areas – for colouring and Lego activities 
  • A designated space for ball games ​

In the pipeline are the additional areas of…

  • A loose parts zone… to flare budding designers’ imaginations
  • Den building zones
  • A large mud kitchen and digging area
  • A class sized sand pit
  • A ‘wheels’ zone

The OPAL programme rationale is that “…better, more active and creative playtimes can mean happier and healthier children, and 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”. 

Grown ups – we are always looking for additional resources for our OPAL playtimes! Please send in to school any old pans, pots, gardening tools (no garden forks), dressing up items, tyres, planks, crates, tarpaulins…. if a child could play with it – we’ll take it!

For more information about the OPAL Programme, visit https://outdoorplayandlearning.org.uk

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