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Opal Play at East Wichel School

Dear Parents/Carers


We are really excited to share with you that we are about to embark on a new initiative to continue to improve opportunities for physical activity, socialisation, cooperation, coordination, resilience, creativity, imagination and enjoyment through improved play at lunchtimes.

In what ways, if any, do you think you benefited from playtime? Thinking about your own childhood, what did you like playing at school or at home? Children today don’t have the same freedoms we once did, so we want to give children back time to really enjoy and learn from play. After all, it’s a child’s basic human right.

The Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) Primary Programme is an exciting programme that will allow your children to grow and learn through play – 20% of their time in school is playtime so we need to ensure it is the best it can be!


There are many proven benefits for schools that carry out the OPAL Primary Programme. They usually include: more enjoyment of school, less teaching time lost to disputes between children, fewer accidents and greatly improved behaviour. 


Play is not messing about. It is the process evolution has come up with to enable children to learn all of the things that cannot be taught, while also having so much fun. There are certain things children must have in order to be able to play. These include:


  • Having clothes that they can play in.
  • Having things to play with.
  • Having a certain amount of freedom.


As we improve the play opportunities for your children, you may find we ask you for resources and you will be seeing some quite significant changes in the way the children use the school grounds. We really want to utilise our fantastic school field more and know that we will need to embrace the fact it is wet and muddy! This may well mean your children getting a bit messier, be exposed to more challenges and have greater freedoms to play where, with whom and how they like. The experiences we want to foster are essential for children’s physical and mental wellbeing, key areas that we are passionate about at East Wichel.  They also fall in line with all current good practice advice on health and safety, wellbeing and development.


The school will be supported by OPAL for 18 months and there will be an opportunity to come and talk to the OPAL mentor at our school. If you would like to learn more about the OPAL Primary Programme, please have a look at the OPAL website (, where you will find lots of useful information and several videos about the programme.


The project will start in January and our hopes are that it will change the way we think and how we play together. To facilitate this project, we will be buying some new resources, moving some things around on the playground and will require some loose parts. Loose parts are any materials that can be easily moved, combined, and incorporated into children's free play. The items we are looking for will enable us to enjoy a wider range of play experiences during playtime and this where we will be asking for help from our wonderful East Wichel community.  Please keep your eye out for further information about how you can help and support us in the New Year.


In the coming 18 months you will be invited to events where you can come and see for yourselves what is happening and have the opportunity to join in too.


We are truly excited about this project and hope that you will support us in our efforts to improve playtime for all children.


The East Wichel Opal Team