“The introduction of Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) programme has had a significant impact on pupils’ attitudes and approaches to learning. Staff make very effective use of the forest school area to enhance learning and to develop social skills and life skills such as resilience.”
SIAMS inspection report February 2019
St. Stephen’s C. E. Primary School recognises that play is an important part of a happy and healthy childhood. Children spend up to 20% of their time in school at play. Therefore this time needs to be coherent and planned for. Changes in society such as heavier traffic, busier lifestyles, less areas for play and awareness of risk have led to ‘play poverty’ for today’s children. This makes their play opportunities at school even more vital. In short, high quality play leads to happier, healthier children.
At St. Stephen’s we are committed to developing our playtimes to enable all children to engage in high quality play at all times. Inclusive opportunities in play are achieved by offering carefully considered outdoor spaces that offer a real choice of accessible play experiences. We are embarking on an exciting journey to transform our playtimes and create permanent play spaces that nurture and excite our children.
As a result of this new initiative, we believe that our children will:
- be happier
- increase self-awareness and self-esteem
- improve language and communication skills
- improve concentration
- improve their imagination, independence and creativity
- nurture inner peace
- improve social skills
- be resilient, confident, good problem solvers
- be ready for anything as a result of negotiation and independence of thought
- be better at problem solving
- develop life skills and improve physical development, co-ordination and fitness.
Over the next 12 months we will be transforming our school grounds and working alongside an outside agency called OPAL (www.outdoorplayandlearning.org.uk) to help guide us through a strategic approach to developing play at St. Stephen’s C. E. Primary School. In addition to this our ‘Play Committee’ will work in collaboration with parents, teachers, support assistants, lunchtime supervisors and children to implement the changes and transform our play culture.