OPAL (Outdoor Play & Learning)
In July 2023, we were delighted to receive the coveted accreditation for the Platinum Outdoor Play And Learning award. We all know how much fun and learning goes on during our playtimes at Bexton, and this was a wonderful recognition for everyone’s creative play, hard work, family support and kind donations during the past two years.
Our children’s play times have been transformed. We have always been blessed with fantastic grounds, but it is only now that its full potential is starting to be utilised. Our OPAL mentor, Ben Tawil, commented on how Bexton’s play offer is varied and diverse, making for truly inclusive, immersive and fun play times, and that our potential to go even further is incredible. Our children are so much happier playing in our most wonderful, naturally rich play environment with an abundance of play opportunities around them.
You wouldn’t believe what the children come up with even with the simplest household items! Wooden pallets, empty tin cans, old sponges, chalk and leaves are turned into a fully operational Costa Coffee. Logs, hammocks and frying pans create an entire den and an entire community that live off the land (mainly mud pizzas). Used tyres and old tarpaulin strategically assembled into a fort enables our children to experience opportunities to develop resilience, team work, negotiation skills, perseverance and character-building skills (which are often difficult to teach and develop in the classroom). We don't mind if there is a mud spa at lunch time and pupils are covered in a rich layer of mud from the delicacies that they have made in the mud kitchen or the mud sliding competitions down the side of our amphitheatre - they are dressed in over-trousers, waterproof coats and wellies so that they can enjoy the endless benefits of mud play…and it is rainy and muddy for over half the year, so why not?
We recognise the importance of supporting children to take risks in their play and have developed a culture that promotes play as essential and risk is good. Together, they promote confidence, resilience and an aptitude to learn from trial and error. We believe that all of this resonates back into the classroom and learning environment.
Play times make up one fifth of the school day. During play time at Bexton, you will see happy, confident children that have the freedom to be themselves, many of whom have come alive at having access to nature, freedom to play, dress up, take risks and have the opportunity to play with loose parts.
Mrs Whelan and Mrs Wilson, with their OPAL team of Mrs Yee Man, Mrs Pui Man and Mrs Drinkwater, have been instrumental throughout Bexton’s OPAL journey, supporting and inspiring children and staff, and always believing that the benefits of OPAL are invaluable to all of the children and to the staff.
We promise to ensure that OPAL will always be championed, promoted, communicated with parents and offering rich benefits for our children. Watch this space…. we’re only just getting started!