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OPAL Primary Programme


The Outdoor Play and Learning Primary Programme



Research has shown that children spend 20% of their time in school playing, which is equivalent to the time they spend in numeracy and literacy lessons. Therefore, this academic year, we are starting our 18-month school development project to make our playtimes even better, in conjunction with Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) CIC. In 2018, OPAL won the best active schools’ programme in Europe award and has been cited in two parliamentary reports as delivering outstanding practice. OPAL is working closely with Sport England to promote more active childhoods, which is one of the many reasons we are improving our playtime, as well as to improve opportunities for socialisation, cooperation, coordination, resilience, creativity, imagination and enjoyment for your child.


We strongly believe that: “Play is freely chosen, personally directed, intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child. Play can be fun or serious. Through play children explore social, material and imaginary worlds and their relationship with them, elaborating all the while a flexible range of responses to the challenges they encounter. By playing, children learn and develop as individuals, and as members of the community.” (Children’s Play Council 2001).


What are the benefits?


We believe that OPAL will help our children to:

  • be more active; improving fitness, physical development, and co-ordination
  • increase happiness
  • improve confidence, self-esteem, and self-awareness
  • increase productivity and concentration
  • improve communication skills; negotiation, problem solving and teamwork
  • improve independence, imagination, and creativity


What is OPAL going to look like at SBSP?


This is a significant project for us to undertake and as such, we will be working with OPAL over the next 18 months. At the moment, we are in the early stages of our journey but we want to keep you involved in our project and up-to-date with all the improvements. Keep your eye out on this page for updates.


How can I help?


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 need to buy some new resources, move some things around on the playground and acquire 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 (see below for some examples):

  • suitcases of any size and type
  • anything on wheels/castors
  • plastic milk crates/supermarket delivery crates/plastic bread trays
  • briefcases, especially hard cased ones
  • road signs and cones
  • kitchen pots, pans, baking trays, work tables, wooden spoons, chopping boards
  • tools like small spades/shovels, trowels and brooms
  • tubes of various sizes and various materials
  • buckets
  • nets and thick ropes
  • keyboards/torches/laptops/calculators/mobile phones/desk phones/webcams/cameras that are no longer working
  • fabric (large sheets/brightly coloured fabric)
  • foam sheets/bodyboards/camping roll mats/yoga mats
  • wooden pallets
  • metal frames
  • cable drums
  • guttering
  • noodles (the type you use in the swimming pool!)
  • hats/scarves/jazzy shirts/elasticated skirts/waistcoats/wedding dresses/character costumes
  • pegs (to help to set up dens)


Our plan is then to sort through, and risk assess all items before introducing them to children through assemblies and then using them at playtimes.

If you work in a trade and/or have access to larger items such as tyres, crates, pallets, rubber or plastic pipes, hoses etc. then please get in touch with the office and our OPAL lead, Mrs Duckworth, will get back to you.


There will be more information to follow at our parent workshop on Wednesday 23rd November at 2pm. We are really excited about this project and hope that you will support us in our efforts to improve playtime for all children.  

Make time to play

St Barnabas & St Paul’s Church of England Primary School

Oakenhurst Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB2 1SN

01254 698413