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OPAL Approach



20% of a child’s time in school is playtime - OPAL at Oaklands Community Primary School encourages children to learn in a variety of ways through play. We aim for pupils to have the opportunity to explore the sixteen play types that OPAL have to offer through a large variety of engaging equipment we have in school. The aim is for pupils to play safely and create their own play in their own way, thus developing responsibility, resilience, risk management and improving social skills.


At Oaklands, pupils have access to the whole play space and are free to choose from a wide variety of equipment and activities including crates, large building blocks, den-building equipment, a mud kitchen, sandpits, dressing up and traditional games such as tennis and football.

The journey begins in Early Years Foundation Stage, with their own outdoor area for both curriculum learning and child-initiated play. The fantastic equipment we have on offer encourages pupils to think imaginatively, such as using large trays and loose parts (e.g. pipes) to create anything from a water slide to a car ramp. They also have the opportunity to continue educational learning at playtime with a reading corner and writing & phonic station; the pupils enjoy using chalk to improve their fine motor skills.

Key Stage 1 are currently in the process of trialing all seasonal play by wearing wellington so that they can play outdoors every day. This helps the pupils embrace the outdoors despite the weather conditions. They get the fresh air that they need to improve their cognitive function in preparation for the next lesson. Our new OPAL shed has a variety of equipment for all pupils to play with. Key Stage 2 pupils often combine with Key Stage 1 at lunchtime play, which encourages age groups to mix and helps older children become caring, responsible members of the school community. In addition, Year 6 pupils have the opportunity to become a part of the Play Team; this involves being in charge of OPAL equipment by ensuring it is treated fairly. However, all children feel responsible for OPAL and enjoy working as a large team to look after the play equipment.

At Oaklands, there are weekly assemblies that involve play. These reinforce the expectation that play must be safe, fun and fair as well as how pupils should use equipment and become responsible members of the community.


OPAL has many proven benefits at Oaklands, including more enjoyment in school, improved relationships between pupils and staff, fewer accidents, less teaching time lost to disputes between children and greatly improved behaviour.

We strive for our pupils to be:

  • Highly independent and resilient
  • Responsible for their own actions
  • Creative, imaginative thinkers
  • Enthusiastic builders, engineers, explorers and designers
  • More active, both physically and mentally


OPAL Play - Managing Risk in Play Provision Implementation

OPAL Play - Policy

OPAL Play - HSE Guidance to Children's Play and Leisure