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OPAL: Outdoor Play and Learning

Play is serious business and every child has a right to play. We are proud to say that at Kender we have been improving what we offer at playtimes since 2014. 

One of our key priorities in 2014/15 was to further improve the quality of behaviour and relationships at breaks and lunchtime.

In April 2016, Ofsted graded Personal Development, behaviour and welfare as outstanding and said this about our playground and school:

The school community radiates happiness, and calmness. Racial harmony is extremely good. Parents are positive about this inclusive nature, all of which contribute to pupils’ spiritual, cultural, moral and social growth and development.

Pupils get on very well with each other and this leads to the school operating an open culture of acceptance across all year groups. Relationships are a strength as the school promotes pupils’ spiritual, moral social and cultural development extremely well.

The playground is a hive of activities and no one is left out. Pupils support one another when someone is hurt and the high level of integration cuts across age group and ethnicity. Pupils are extremely proud of their OPAL (outdoor play and learning), which they contributed to developing. They see the OPAL as an integral part of their school, a development that was justly given a platinum award for inventiveness.

We have achieved this through support from the OPAL (Outdoor play and Learning) programme and are the only inner London school to hold a Platinum Quality award for our play.

 “The OPAL Programme is a mentor supported, year-long programme to enable a sustained, long-term improvement in the quality of playtimes at primary schools.”

OPAL has grown rapidly since its origins ten years ago and is widely used both in the UK and elsewhere. 

The OPAL programme rationale is that

“ 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”. 

Since we started the OPAL program we have:

  • delivered INSET for the whole staff team
  • produced and worked through a detailed action plan
  • circulated and agreed a policy for Play
  • held a grounds development day
  • ordered for Play Pods for the school and nursery
  • and, at the end of the summer term 2015 recruited a Play Leader
  • empowered the play team (lunchtime supervisors)
  • created open ended opportunities for children at playtime
  • Provided the children with enriching, exciting, fulfilling playtimes, that all children can access and enjoy including SEN children.
  • Opened up our playground so that all children from Reception to year 6 can play together.

We are one of only a small number of schools who have taken this bold step to take play seriously.

Over the past year we have won two awards for our play provision:

OPAL: platinum award; the first school in London to achieve this award

London Play: Adventurous Play in a London School award.

At Kender we continue to work closely with OPAL and host numerous visitors to the school grounds to see how we develop and enhance children’ss love of play and creativity.  In the future we hope to inspire other schools and educators to encourage quality play experiences in their schools.