Skip to content ↓

Play & OPAL


Why is quality play time hard to find?

Play is a UN-recognised right, and playtime in primary school accounts for 1.4 years of the time that a child spends in school and in some schools, it is also one of the most neglected areas of a school day in terms of the thought that goes into it.

Childhood has changed, but children have not. The squeeze of children’s free play times can be attributed to various causes. Among other reasons, we have seen a huge increase in the lack of available play spaces in housing estates, a culture of fear around risk, heavily structured clubs and an increase in screen time, which have all led to a reduced amount of time for quality play in children’s lives.


What will we do about this?

We believe that a child’s access to the outdoors, access to manageable risks and extended, quality play opportunities is a fundamental aspect of their development as learners and as human beings. Our Outdoor Play and Learning play times, as well as our Forest School sessions, reflect this belief.

As a result, we have undertaken a huge shift in our attitude and offer for play and have taken on the OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning’s group) recommendations for play. We have begun to implement this through a two-year project, which should be fully implemented by July 2025.

How will OPAL help the children who come to our school?

The benefits include dramatic improvements in:

Behaviour - Happy children do not cause nearly as much trouble as bored children.

Accidents - OPAL schools have up to 80% fewer reported accidents.

Staff well-being - Supervising happier children leads to happier staff.

Teachers - Consistently report more teaching time in afternoon lessons, and spend less time dealing with playtime incidents.

Self-regulation - Children in OPAL schools learn to self-regulate through practice, trust and freedom.

Physical activity - all children, including girls, children with special educational needs and non-sporty children are significantly more active.


Mental Well-being - Research shows OPAL children are happier and self-reporting improved mental health.

Social and emotional development - Good play in the laboratory of life where relationships are practised

Links to formal learning - OPAL schools report increased creativity, imagination and collaborative skills in formal learning.

Attendance - Children can not wait to come to school because they have such fun at playtimes

Parents - We all want our children to be happy. Well-informed parents at OPAL schools love that their children are happier.

OFSTED - OPAL schools can easily provide evidence of their approach to well-being and inclusion.

Risk - OPAL schools report significant improvements in children's ability to identify and manage risk.