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What is OPAL?

Children spend around 20% of their time in school playing. To ensure that this time and our fantastic school grounds are used to their full potential our school has adopted an OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) philosophy that allows the children freedom to explore play in their own imaginative ways, often using found and gathered resources in the natural environment.

 An OPAL approach promotes a more inclusive play environment in which all children feel comfortable to express themselves.

Link to OPAL website


Our OPAL journey began in January 2022 and quickly we are transforming our outdoor environment. Our outdoor learning space has many new zones including: Ravenbank outdoor theatre, lego and tyre zones, small world area, woodland with den building and loose parts zones for our children to build and create.

Through this approach to play, children are not only more active at lunch or break times, but they are also having the opportunity to further develop life skills such as cooperation, teamwork and problem solving. Our children are becoming motivated and enthusiastic builders, engineers, explorers and designers.

How does it work at Ravenbank?

All children from Reception (Spring term) to Year 6 have the freedom to play where they choose within the school grounds.

A variety of zones, stations, equipment, activities and areas are available to the children and these may vary each day depending on what the children choose to do.

Our Play Offer:

  • Outdoor theatre with music, dressing up clothes and musical instruments
  • Construction – crates and tyres
  • Small world role play
  • Lego areas
  • Sports equipment
  • Craft section – chalk, easels and colouring
  • Den making equipment

Members of the Play Team, easily visible in their Ravenbank High Vis vests, supervise each part of the playground. They adopt a ‘ranging’ form of supervision and are based at strategic points to ensure the safety of the children.

Children are asked to be responsible for the equipment and tidying away at the end of the session. Our OPAL Ambassadors help support their peers with this.

Children are allowed to play across the school grounds and so wellies and waterproof coats are essential – we are a very muddy school!

We have regular play assemblies and the OPAL Ambassadors help to create videos introducing new equipment and encouraging safe play.

What’s next?

We are currently developing our grounds to include a sandpit, mud kitchen and free digging area. We are planning to reopen the trim trail, once the flooring has been replaced.

What our children think?

I like OPAL play because I can build dens with my friends!”- Eden Year1 Pupil

“I like playing in the woods because you can build dens and I like playing with my sister!”- Lydia Y1 Pupil

I like OPAL because you can go wherever you want to”-Maeve- Y4 pupil

I think it’s really good because you can anywhere and also if you have packed lunch you can eat everywhere as well! - Max Y4 Pupil

Loose Part Plea:

You can always help us by donating any unwanted materials you have at home; we always need loose parts and greatly appreciate these throughout the year;

  • cable rolls/wheels
  • plastic or metal buckets
  • kitchen utensils, pots, pans, plastic plates etc for the mud kitchen.
  • watering cans, guttering
  • large fabric
  • dressing up clothes
  • dolls and push chairs

Link to HSE managing risk in play:


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