OPAL - Outdoor Play and Learning


We are delighted to be able to announce that after an 18-month intensive mentoring and development period it has been awarded the Platinum OPAL play award.

This means that it falls into the top 1% of schools in the country with respect to delivering excellence in play. 

See here for the Parents' Guide to OPAL: The Power of Playtime!

In Summer 2023, we have introduced OPAL play times to Staveley Junior School. This is so every lunch time at school can be a fantastic, imaginative and fun experience every day. We are developing the use of our grounds at school so that children can use all of the spaces, including the field, the mud kitchen and the trees during the whole of play time. Children will be able to mix with other year groups and there will be much more free play and few activities that are on a rota. What they choose will be self-directed, intrinsically motivated and freely chosen.


Our aim is to have better, more active and creative playtimes. We seek happier and healthier children, and having happier, healthier, more active children usually results in a more positive attitude to learning in school.


Our school values at Staveley Junior School are ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve’. We seek for children to use their imagination and dream of all the different things they can do and be. Through this sort of creative play, they can begin to put their dreams into action and begin to believe that this can be a reality. Through this process, we seek for them to achieve their aims and goals however small or large they may be. 

The value of play
Play is defined as a process that is intrinsically motivated, directed by the child and freely chosen by the child. Play has its own value and provides its own purpose. It may or may not involve equipment or other people.  It may be serious or light hearted. It may produce something or it may be done simply for its own sake.  It allows children an opportunity to be creative, to make decisions and to assess and manage risks.   
We recognise that play may need to make a noise, get dirty, make a mess and sometimes be out of the direct gaze of adults.  We believe that the role of the adults, our midday supervisors (Play Team) is to support the play process.   
The benefits of play
  • Play is critical to children’s health and wellbeing, and essential for their physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual development.  
  • Play enables children to explore the physical and social environment, as well as different concepts and ideas. 
  • Play enhances children’s self-esteem and their understanding of others through freely chosen social interactions, within peer groups, with individuals, and within groups of different ages, abilities, interests, genders, ethnicities and cultures. 
  • Play requires ongoing communication and negotiation skills, enabling children to develop a balance between their right to act freely and their responsibilities to others. 
  • Play enables children to experience a wide range of emotions and develop their ability to cope with these, including sadness and happiness, rejection and acceptance, frustration and achievement, boredom and fascination, fear and confidence. 
  • Play encourages self-confidence and the ability to make choices, problem solve and to be creative. 
  • Play maintains children’s openness to learning, develops their capabilities and allows them to push the boundaries of what they can achieve. 
For more information, follow the link to the OPAL website. We are following the 18-24 month OPAL Primary Programme to develop our play times to a standard that we are proud of.

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