The OPAL programme rationale is that …”better, 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”.
In September 2019 we launched OPAL at Barrs Court School through a whole school ‘play assembly’. We told the children about the new equipment for our playground (pallets and tyres) and how there would now be a welly boot on the pole to tell them whether they can go on the field in their school shoes ( Module Settings green welly boot), whether they need to change into their outdoor footwear (orange welly boot) or whether they are not to go on at all (red welly boot). The children were very quick to adapt to the new expectations surrounding the new equipment.
Celebrate → negotiate → introduce
While there are no rules a surrounding the equipment in terms of what to do with it, we need to ensure that the children are safe and the equipment is being used and stored in a safe way. To discuss this we have Play assemblies once every short term. We celebrate the play we have seen and highlight any brilliant behaviour (sharing, negotiation, creativity) through discussion and sharing photos. If necessary, we talk about the need negotiate (if anything needs to be stored differently, if any behaviours need to be changed). We then introduce new equipment and discuss the safety expectations. In term 3 we have added flower pots to our collection of ‘OPAL stuff’! We can’t wait to see what creative and imaginative things the children do with them!