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Nightingale Academy

St Margaret's Primary Academy

Unlocking Potential; Transforming Lives

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OPAL - The Power of Play

What is OPAL?


OPAL stands for Outdoor Play and Learning.  OPAL is a community interest company dedicated to providing services to schools and organisations to improve the quality of play opportunities for all children.


Here at The St Margaret’s Primary Academy, we are committed to ensuring quality play opportunities are available to all our children. We believe that play is essential for physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual development of each child. OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) allows children to be inspired, creative and imaginative during playtimes, using naturally, recycled and manmade resources.


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


The OPAL Outdoor Play and Learning Programme is the result of 17 years testing and development in over 250 schools and is now used in Canada and New Zealand as well as across the UK. In 2018 OPAL won first prize in an EU funded award for the best active school’s programme in Europe. It is based on the idea that as well as learning through good teaching, your children also learn when they play, and as 20% of their time in school is playtime, we want to make sure that this amount of time (equivalent to 1.4 years of primary school) is as good as possible.


We will be holding Play Assemblies where we will celebrate great play, introducing new activities or equipment, reminding the children about any rules or expectations and presenting a ‘Golden Welly’ award for something outstanding that has been noticed during OPAL playtimes.



What are the benefits of OPAL?

St Margaret's Primary Academy have enlisted the support of OPAL to help us to create better playtimes for all.  Some of the benefits include:


Faster Core Skills Development:

Children at OPAL schools rapidly develop creativity, imagination, cooperation, resilience, social skills, emotional regulation, stamina, confidence and readiness to learn on returning to the classroom.



OPAL's approach makes play better for every child, every exceptions!


Happiness and Wellbeing:

Play is a human need and a human right.  Children and staff at OPAL's schools report feeling less stressed and happier, and more excited about school.


How you can help

Play is the process that enables children to learn all of the things that cannot be taught, while also having fun. As the school improves play opportunities for your children, you may find the school is asking you for resources and is making changes about how the children use the school grounds. They may use more of the grounds for more of the year. Your children may get a bit messier, be exposed to more risks, challenges and have more freedom to play where, with whom and how they like. The experiences the school is fostering are essential for children's physical and mental well-being and health and in line with all current good practice advice on health and safety, well-being, and development.


Wish List

We would be grateful for donations of the following to build up our stock of loose parts and play equipment for our Outdoor Play and Learning:


  • large cardboard boxes
  • unwanted suitcases
  • unwanted pushchairs
  • roller skates & scooters
  • bicycle or skateboarding helmets
  • go-kart tyres
  • large cardboard tubes
  • off-cuts of plastic guttering
  • small world toys such as dinosaurs, animals and vehicles


Please bring to the main office and someone will come out to collect.

Get In Touch

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REACH2 Academy Trust

Founded in 2012, REAch2 Academy Trust is the largest primary-only academy trust in country.

Registered Address: Henhurst Ridge Primary Academy Henhurst Ridge Burton-Upon-Trent DE13 9TQ Tel: 01283 246433 Email:

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