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Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL)

OPAL, Outdoor Play and Learning -

Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL)

What is OPAL?

Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) is an award-winning mentor-supported school improvement programme, addressing all the areas schools must plan for if they want to strategically and sustainably improve the quality of their play opportunities.

OPAL is the only programme of its kind that has been independently proven to sustainably improve the quality of play in British primary schools.

Its success comes from a series of interrelated actions undertaken with the specialist support from an OPAL mentor. This embeds play into school’s policies and practices and establishes clear guiding principles and strategies for initiating changes at playtimes. The results can be transformational in even the more challenging school environments. Read the full programme outline here.

In London and the South-east, the OPAL programme is delivered by Outdoor People. Meet the team.

What are the benefits of the OPAL Primary Programme?

  • More teaching time

Most schools report more teaching time per teacher with happier, more creative, and well-exercised children who settle to classes much more quickly.

  • Improved behaviour

OPAL schools report up to an 80% decrease in use of behaviour policies and a 90% drop in senior leadership time spent in resolving playtime issues.

  • Faster core skills development

Children at OPAL schools rapidly develop creativity, imagination, cooperation, resilience, stamina and confidence. Inclusion OPAL's approach makes play better for every child, every day...no exceptions!

  • Happiness and wellbeing

Play is a human need and a human right. Children and staff at OPAL's schools report feeling less stressed, happier, and more excited about learning.

How do we know it works?

The OPAL Primary programme has been independently evaluated by Dr Wendy Russell and Dr Stuart Lester from Gloucester University and Dr Owain Jones from the University of West of England. Read their summary of OPAL benefits here.

How much does it cost? 

The standard OPAL Primary Programme costs £4750 (ex. VAT) plus travel fees. The Outdoor People team is able to offer additional support through our related programmes. Click here for the full pricing structure and programme outputs.

How do I sign up or get more information?

Contact opal@outdoorpeople.org.uk for more information or call 07813 879 179.

What people say about OPAL…

The difference that OPAL’s success is recognised not just by children, teachers and headteachers, but by Ofsted:

‘The school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is outstanding. 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.’

Kender Primary OFSTED

‘We have a strategy and a plan. OPAL has provided our children with really high-quality and they love it. Teachers love it because they are getting 10-15 minutes more teaching time a day. The TA’s love it because their working conditions are far improved. We have had numerous comments from parents saying. ‘thank you...my child enjoys playtimes so much more now.''

Dan Rodeck, Head, Filton Avenue Primary Bristol 2020 

Recommendations: ‘Training in play to become a part of standard teacher training, including a baseline gap assessment tool such as that provided by OPAL.’

All Party Parliamentary Group on Fit and Healthy Childhood 2015

Photo credit: Learning Through Landscapes.