Consett Infant School has won an award – for being an excellent place for children to play.
The school has been granted the Platinum level of accreditation from the Outside Play and Learning (OPAL) Primary Programme. This programme seeks to create happier playtimes and improved play spaces and encourages staff to support outdoor learning.
Led by PE teacher Mrs Kath Ewart, staff from Consett Infant School have for the last 18 months been working with OPAL, in the process learning how to create more enjoyable and imaginative play experiences.
Via training sessions and visits to other schools, staff have learnt how to get the most out of the time allocated for play and their school grounds.
The school has also enhanced its outdoor play area, with the assistance of a £4,000 grant from Tesco’s Bags of Help programme and a £9,516 grant from the National Lottery.
The play area has gone from being a plain space with hoops and balls to an area containing a sand pit, a climbing wall, an obstacle trail, soccer-style goalposts, and even a dinosaur area and fairy garden.
Kids can now take part in activities like dressing up and den building, as well as experiment in the play area’s mud and sand kitchens.
The head of Consett Infant School, Julia Graham, said, “We were inspired to change our approach to play after seeing research which showed how outdoor play has changed over the generations, with children playing outside much less.”
“As a result, they were missing out on basic developmental skills such as team building, developing resilience, taking risks, physical development and social skills – all of which they will need in the future.”
“The type of play we offer the children now helps them to be more active and they’re spending their break times becoming inventors, builders, negotiators, explorers and designers.”
“We’ve made a lot of changes to our school break times and are delighted to have been awarded the highest possible standard for our play in our end-of-project assessment.”
To learn more about Consett Infant School and their work with OPAL, please visit http://www.consett-inf.durham.sch.uk/.
In other news, Consett kids have been getting creative by making up and performing raps and poems about road safety.
(This article’s main image shows Mrs Julia Graham and children from Consett Infant School with some of their new equipment.)