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OPAL Children's Play Policy

What are OPAL lunchtimes?


Amazing play, everyday, for every child


OPAL is an award-winning, mentor supported school improvement programme that addresses all the areas that schools must plan for if they want to strategically and sustainably improve the quality of their play opportunities.


OPAL is the only programme of its kind that has been independently proven to sustainably improve the quality of play in British primary schools. Its success comes from a series of interrelated actions undertaken with specialist support from an OPAL mentor. This embeds play into the school’s policies and practices and establishes clear guiding principles and strategies for initiating lasting changes at playtimes.


OPAL lunchtimes support primary schools to dramatically improve the quality of day-to-day play times, with a consequent beneficial impact on lunchtime behaviour, engagement, learning, personal development and physical activity/literacy.


Risk Management

‘Play is great for children’s wellbeing and development. When planning and providing play opportunities, the goal is not to eliminate risk but to weigh up the risks and benefits. No child will learn about risk if they are wrapped up in cotton wool.’


 Managing the risk in Play Provision: An Implementation Guide (2012)


As providers of play, we believe that our role is to provide and facilitate as many enriching opportunities for play as possible. Children need to learn to manage risk for themselves in an environment that is as safe as it needs to be, not devoid of risk completely. When carrying out risk assessments, the benefit of the play opportunities should be balanced with any risks. If the benefits of play outweigh the risks, we will aim to facilitate and encourage the children to participate in play. We will adopt and adhere to a risk-benefit approach and use dynamic risk assessments to help us protect and provide for all children’s needs.