Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL)
OPAL is an award-winning, mentor supported school improvement programme that is designed to strategically and sustainably improve the quality of school play opportunities.
“When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero.”
At Fairlawn, we believe that play and learning are inseparable from each other. Playtime is 20% of a child’s school day and we want to make sure that this time is valued and celebrated. Not only does play provide an opportunity for physical development but it also provides important opportunities to learn about socialisation, co-operation, resilience, creativity and imagination – that is why play is at the very heart of our school ethos.
At Fairlawn, we are part of the OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) programme to help ensure that play at Fairlawn is active and creative. Playtime at Fairlawn is a hive of activity, where children are offered the chance to encounter acceptable risks as part of a stimulating, challenging and controlled environment. Exposure to some degree of risk gives children the chance to learn about risk and consequences in a safe environment.
“The more risks you allow your children to make, the better they learn to look after themselves.”
We celebrate play each week in our weekly assemblies to help encourage children to recognise their positive attitude and approach to play. Children have an important role in shaping what playtime looks like at Fairlawn.
Each term, we organise a Play Day where children across all year groups are free to engage in different types of play for the whole day. We understand that play has a critical role in children’s emotional health, their well-being and their enjoyment of school.
“Free play gives children an outlet to express their emotions and feelings and
helps them to develop a sense of who they are.”
Joan Santer and Carol Griffiths.