St Thomas' CE Primary School

St Clement & St James CE Primary School

St Thomas' Federation - Stronger together

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OPAL Project


"We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing." Charles E Schaefer


At St Thomas’ Federation we are committed to providing quality play provision for all children. To achieve this, we are proud to be working with The Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) project.


What is the OPAL project? 

The OPAL project is a research-based initiative aimed at improving the quality of outdoor play in schools. The project was developed in the UK and has been implemented in schools throughout the world. 


OPAL aims to support schools in developing high-quality outdoor play experiences. It is based on the understanding that outdoor play is essential for children’s physical, emotional and social development and allows children the freedom to explore and play in their own imaginative ways, often using found and gathered materials and resources from the environment. 


An OPAL approach promotes a more inclusive play environment in which all children can feel comfortable to express themselves. Our children enjoy a full range of play opportunities, from physical play such as creating obstacle courses from tyres, planks and crates; cooking in the mud kitchen; dressing up, drawing and dancing. OPAL offers an exciting alternative to standard playground activities. 


You can find out more about OPAL and their philosophy here:


What are the benefits? 

We believe that OPAL will benefit our children in many ways: 

  • Improved physical health: The OPAL project encourages physical activity and helps children with fitness, physical development and co-ordination. 
  • Improved mental wellbeing: Children will have a sense of social connectedness and a sense of belonging which reduces stress and increases happiness. 
  • Enhanced social skills: The project increases opportunities for peer interaction using negotiations, problem solving and teamwork. 
  • Increased self confidence: The OPAL project teaches children to assess risk and be aware of the decisions that they make leading to improved independence, self-esteem and resilience. 
  • Cognitive and academic benefits: Children who have access to high quality outdoor play experiences have increased attention on return to the classroom. 


How can I help? 

If you are in a position to donate resources, we would be very grateful for any of the following items: 

  • Suitcases of any size and type
  • Plastic milk crates/supermarket delivery crates/plastic bread trays 
  • Briefcases, especially hard cased ones 
  • Kitchen pots, pans, baking trays, work tables, wooden spoons, chopping boards 
  • Tools e.g. small spades, trowels and brooms 
  • Tubes of various sizes and 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 a swimming pool!) 
  • Hats, scarves, jazzy shirts, elasticated skirts, waistcoats, wedding dresses, character costumes 
  • Pegs (to set up dens) 


Please contact the school office about your donation. 


To learn more about our approach to play, read our play policy.