OPAL (Outdoor Play & Learning)

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Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that ‘A child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.


At Crawford’s Primary School, we recognise that play is an integral part of a happy and healthy childhood. As a school, we believe in providing consistently high-quality, sustainable play opportunities for all children. These inclusive opportunities in play are achieved by offering carefully considered outdoor spaces, equipment, and toys that offer a rich choice of accessible play experiences for every child. At Crawford’s, we are firmly committed to using our school vision and play policy to guide our planning and actions in providing play opportunities for children. We believe play has a vital role in children’s health, happiness, and well-being. It creates children who are independent, confident, imaginative, adaptable, social and able to assess risks. These skills link closely to our Crawford’s Cog Learning Behaviours: ‘Kind Communicators’, ‘Resilient’, ‘Courageous’, ‘Inquisitive’, ‘Aspirational’, and ‘Reflective’, which were developed to encourage and teach essential life skills across the whole school day.

Children spend up to 20% or 1.4 years 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, fewer areas for play and awareness of risk have led to ‘play deprivation’ for many of today’s children. This makes their play opportunities at school even more essential. 

 

Better-quality play leads to happier children and happier staff. With better-quality play opportunities, there are fewer behaviour problems, a more positive attitude to school and improved skills development and learning. As the children improve their quality of play and have more enriching play times, there are fewer accidents and classroom learning is enhanced as the children come in from play happy and ready to learn.

 

Our children have access to a wide range of materials, which they can use in their play. These include tyres, crates, wood, fabric, mud, wheeled toys and much more. Through regular play assemblies, they are taught about dynamic risk assessments and playing co-operatively with others.

We follow advice from the Health and Safety Executive, who supports active play in schools:

"HSE fully recognises that play brings the world to life for children. It provides for an exploration and understanding of their abilities; helps them to learn and develop; and exposes them to the realities of the world in which they will live, which is a world not free from risk but rather one where risk is ever present. The opportunity for play develops a child’s risk awareness and prepares them for their future lives. (From the Health and Safety Executive’s Children’s play and leisure - promoting a balanced approach.)"

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PLATINUM AWARD FOR THE QUALITY OF OUR PLAY!

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Since we started our OPAL journey in 2019, our play has been completely transformed. Children now have ownership of their play, choosing from a huge range of resources and using them to create their own games.  We are, therefore, delighted and proud to announce that we are the first school in Suffolk to have achieved the highest possible award for the quality of our play, 'The Platinum Award' (putting us in the top 0.05% in the country for the quality of our play).

Walk around our playground at any lunchtime and you will see children making dens, climbing, swinging in hammocks, testing their strength, dancing, dressing up, making mud cakes, playing in role, chasing, jumping over tyres, digging in the sandpit, developing new skills, negotiating with others and being completely immersed in play. It is truly wonderful!

You can read our play policy here: Play Policy

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