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Outdoor Play and Learning

At Balfour Primary School, 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. Most of our best childhood memories are from our experiences of playing outdoors, climbing trees and exploring the wide world around us. OPAL provides the opportunity to give those memories and experiences to our children. OPAL is all about using naturally and man-made resources to allow children to be inspired and creative at playtime.

Principle aims are:

  • to provide children with a play setting which is enjoyable, stimulating and challenging; ​
  • to allow children to take risks; ​
  • to provide children with a range of play opportunities which will support learning across the curriculum and about the world around them.​

What are the benefits of OPAL?

  • Happier and healthier children
  • Children coming into class ready to learn
  • A fully inclusive playtime offer
  • Provides opportunities to be creative and make decisions
  • Children develop independence and resilience skills
  • Increased social skills
  • Awareness of our environment and how to look after and preserve it
  • …. and most importantly fun!

How does OPAL support our ethos and values?

We have ensured that our school values are reflected in our approach to learning through play and have designed the roles of our Play Leaders and Play Helpers around these.

Our Play Leaders have the following qualities and are elected by the other children in their class:


  • Treat each other as they wish to be treated themselves.
  • Help other children who are finding playtimes tricky.
  • Support children with their friendships.


  • Show other children how to look after, and use, the equipment safely and responsibly.
  • A good team member, working collaboratively with other Play Leaders.


  • Be able to reflect on what things are going well and those that need improving during lunchtime play.
  • Find solutions to problems.


  • Try out different ideas to see which ideas work best.
  • Keep trying when things are challenging.
  • Encourage problem-solving when supporting other children.

Play Helpers Role ​(Lunchtime adults)

  • To support and facilitate play​
  • To pose questions around risk and safety.​
  • To pose questions around responsibility e.g. fairness and inclusion​
  • To support respectful play and treatment of other children and adults- considering their needs and feelings.​
  • To support children in reflecting on play that has gone well/not gone well reviewing the reasons for these and how play can be adapted for next time.​
  • To respond quickly if play equipment or the play area is unsafe and report to Senior Leadership Team or a member of the Play Team immediately. ​
  • To encourage resilience in trying again if things don’t work out as planned the first time.​

In order to make progress in implementing OPAL at Balfour over the next 18 months we need the support and help of our families. This could be coordinating resources to enrich play or helping with developing our grounds. If you are able to join us in this initiative please contact:

OPAL website: