Widcombe CofE Junior School

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Outdoor Learning

    Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL)

    20% of the school timetable is spent on play and lunchtimes. Over 7 years at primary school this equates to 1.4 years! At Widcombe, we believe this is too valuable a resource to waste. Since September 2016, we have been developing and enriching our playtime provision. We want our children to be inquisitive, playful, and creative and learn to manage risks through play. The impact of OPAL has been significant across the school. Feedback from staff, children and parents is that OPAL has made lunchtime at Widcombe a much happier, exciting and rewarding place to be.

    We hold regular 'playdates' where parents and teachers are invited to come along and join the children in their play.

    Below are some comments from parents about OPAL playtimes.


    Last week we peeped over the playground fence to see our daughter and her friends absolutely engrossed in a world of imagination and wonder. The staff have created a little corner of magic that is continually growing - tree houses, bug hotels, suitcase sledges, mud kitchens and happy happy children. With their passion and determination the possibilities are endless. 

    Year 3 Parent.


    The OPAL project has brought children together that may not have had previous opportunities to get to know each other quite so well. The activities really nurture shared interests and this cuts across all age groups with no divides. Seeing OPAL open up previously ignored spaces has also been a breath of fresh air. The open afternoon for parents and carers to come in for a play date was a brilliant idea - thoroughly lovely to be encouraged to play alongside our children ad really experience what they had gravitated towards.

    Year 5 Parent


    The playground has been transformed into a magical and quirky space where you see children zooming around in wheelbarrows and suitcases, dressed up in high heels and old washing baskets, hanging from dens made from netting, writing plays in the make-shift theatre, digging up soil.... It is amazing to see how simple it has been to transform playtimes by simply bringing in lots of 'junk' and letting the children’s' imagination run loose. It’s also touching to see how much pride they take in their play stuff and how good they are at tidying away at the end of play times. It has had a real impact on my daughters - they LOVE school and are more than ever oozing with confidence and happiness, they rarely complain of playground squabbles and often tell me what a great school they are in.

    Year 4 and 6 Parent.


    Seeing Widcombe Junior playground transform, and the playtime behaviour of my own and other children with it, has been a joy. It has been pleasing to watch the different year groups reconnect through play and see their imaginations fired up because of OPAL. 

    Year 3 and 5 Parent


    OPAL has transformed playtimes at school, providing endless opportunities for creative play through such an extraordinary range of different equipment. The only limit is the children's imaginations! I really value that it encourages the children to push the boundaries of what they do while learning to take responsibility for their own risk. My child recently spent a day

    at another local school - and said it had been a terrible day because they ONLY had 'normal' playground equipment!

    Year 3 Parent


    My son really enjoys OPAL because he can dress up using the dressing up clothes in the suitcases. It has made his playtime a happy and fun experience. He has been able to make dens and forts, this has been a favourite activity. At the moment he has been using OPAL resources such as buckets, cups, a silver jug and boxes to set up a workshop to make lavender oil to deliver to his friends around the playground. As a parent I feel my son really benefits from OPAL and I am pleased they all have access to such a fun playtime, as I feel it is vital for a child's development.

    Year 4 Parent


    For more information on OPAL please take a look at this website:


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