Cultural Experiences

Pupil Leadership

A Pupil-centred Curriculum


Ourselves & Others

landing-ourselvesThe best learning requires that we know a bit about ourselves - self-awareness. Like how we learn, what makes us tick, what distracts us, what would make us a better person...and so on. If we know these things then we can begin to control them and our learning.

But of course, we're not alone on this planet. We share it with a huge diversity of people. We believe that it's also important to learn about who these others are, how they are similar to us and what we can do to make sure that they, too, lead happy, fulfilling lives.

Hall of Fame

Our Star Achievers...

Each week teachers are on the lookout for a Star Achiever in their class. So, how do they decide? A Star Achiever stands out as someone who has shown that they are becoming a more effective learner...

The focus isn't on being better than the rest but being the best that you can be. Determination and effort are key contributors to the selection of a Star Achiever, rather than natural talent or flair. Teachers consider which children have demonstrated significant improvements in being Resourceful, Resilient, Reflective and how they've developed Relationships in becoming a better learner. These are key attributes/behaviours that we seek in all of our learners. 

From February 2015 (Week 9 onwards), we decided to add 'Play Stars' to our Achiever celebrations. The last few pictures of each slideshow identifies a Key Stage 1 and a Key Stage 2 child who have been stars as agreed by our Play Team. These are children who enact and promote our core Christian values for the benefit of others whilst engaging in creative and exciting play at break times. 

So, who's managed it this week?



Our Star Achiever archive of previous weeks can be found here

Every Day Counts: Star Attenders

At Blue Coat, we believe that it is important to recognise the importance of good attendance of school. When children are in school then they are learning. We celebrate those classes where this ethic is strong.

Every Friday afternoon, our Attendance Officer works tirelessly to tally up the attendance figures for every class and come up with that all important figure out of 100%. The highest attending 3 classes are congratulated but the winning class is rewarded with a Star Attender point. A class collecting 3 of these points throughout the year equates to a non-school uniform day on a day of their choice.

So, who are our current Star Attenders?

In 2019-20... 

 2019 11 29 02.16.19 pm





Joe webAt Blue Coat we value the fact that all children learn lots through play. So much so that we have devoted a talented team of staff to strategically lead and manage this area of our children's development on a daily basis. Led by our Play Coordinator, Mrs Murray, we understand that if we're serious about ensuring that our children are 'future ready' by learning about themselves and others, or their spirituality, or how they learn to learn, then the 1.4 years of play time at primary school must be invested in properly!

This blog will endeavour to keep you regularly updated on the progress we are making in this area.

NEW  Play Coordinator wins national recognition

Blue Coat's Play Coordinator, Mrs Murray, was awarded the title of Inspiring Educator in the Outstanding Contribution to Learning Outside the Classroom awards last week.
Following a shortlisting of 4 by LOtC judges and then a public vote, Mrs Murray finished in first place and had her very own nerve-racking 'golden envelope' moment at the award ceremony!

Mrs Murray said, "I am over the moon to have won this award for my work at Blue Coat. Many thanks to all parents, PTA, Governors, family and friends for voting for me. I am lucky to have a wonderful job and I am passionate about bringing the children's play ideas to life at school."


Creating space for wildlife and play

All year 3 and 4 pupils in classes Drake, Darwin and Cousteau had an active afternoon on the school field, planting young trees and sowing wildflower seeds, to create new habitats for wildlife and improve our play spaces.

Over 100 native saplings were planted (provided kindly by the Woodland Trust) and three long wildflower 'rivers' were sown along blank edges of the field (seeds provided by the Grow Wild Campaign).

Many thanks to the grown-up helpers who volunteered their time to support this session.
Photos of the session can be seen here


Last days to vote! Outdoor Play Hub

Please VOTE! Please share with friends, family and colleagues.

Voting link: 

We are in the final 2 days of voting!

Our project proposal (£5 - £10k Supporting Young People category) is to develop an Outdoor Adventure Play Hub. There are three key elements of this idea: - to further develop the school site adding exciting play opportunities (e.g. a Dengineering area, Swing and Hang zone with hammocks and slack-line, Pop-up scooter park);

- to open up the site to Blue Coat pupils and the wider commuity of Young People in Wotton under Edge;

- to work with staff from other schools to share our learning and best pratice.

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! It's simple, the more votes we get, the more chance we have of getting to the final judging stage.

Voting closes on Friday 18th November. Each person gets 10 votes. You can use all 10 votes on 1 project if you wish! Every vote counts! Spread the word!

Learning Outside the Classroom - vote now!Rachel Murray portrait Blue Coat school

Blue Coat's Play Coordinator Mrs Murray has been shortlisted for a Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) award. The Awards for Outstanding Contribution to LOtC recognise individuals and teams of people who are committed to ensuring that young people have inspiring experiences outside the classroom. Mrs Murray is shortlisted for the 'Inspiring Educator' award.

We are in the last week of voting, which closes on 11th November. Voting takes just 2 clicks and no registration. Please vote to show your support and pass on to other family and friends who may like to also vote!

Many thanks. Click HERE to vote

Back to school, back to play!

Welcome back everybody! We've been enjoying the late sunshine and the beautiful autumn leaves on our playgrounds. Temperatures are forecast to drop this week, so don't forget to bring a coat to school. The grass on the field is damp and dewy so wellies will be required to access this area most days. If you don't have wellies in school, you can bring them at any time to add them to the welly sheds. Mrs Murray has some spare pairs - just ask if you'd like to see if there's a pair that fits.

We have two play-related votes open at the moment. All votes very gratefully received.
Aviva Community Fund (up to £10k)  Click to vote here

Outstanding Contribution Award for Mrs Murray. Click to vote here 


Beach Babies session autumn term 2

The Play Beach at Blue Coat school field is open for special outdoor play sessions for children under 5 and their parents / carers. Adult supervision is essential. Local parents, grandparents and childminders are all welcome. Buckets and spades are provided. School toilets are accessible for children. Please dress for the weather! The sessions will still run on wet days.

Tuesday afternoons                     Wednesday mornings

2.45 - 3.15pm                                  8.55 - 9.45am

8th November                                    16th November

22nd November                                  30th November

6th December                                     14th December

Play Beach ‘Beach Babies’ sessions are free of charge. No booking is required. Parental / adult supervision is essential. Please help keep the school site clean and tidy. No smoking, no dogs on the school site.

Any enquiries, please contact Mrs Murray via the Blue Coat school office.

The Play Beach was supported by Tesco’s Bags of Help, Big Lottery’s Awards for All and Magnox’s Socioeconomic fund.

Play Hub - We need your votes!

Blue Coat PTA, working with the school, have got through to a public voting stage in the Aviva Community Fund.

Our project proposal (£5 - £10k Supporting Young People category) is to develop an Outdoor Adventure Play Hub. There are three key elements of this idea:
- to further develop the school site adding exciting play opportunities (e.g. a Dengineering area, Swing and Hang zone with hammocks and slack-line, Pop-up scooter park);

- to open up the site to Blue Coat pupils and the wider commuity of Young People in Wotton under Edge;

- to work with staff from other schools to share our learning and best pratice.

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! It's simple, the more votes we get, the more chance we have of getting to the final judging stage.

Please VOTE! Please share with friends, family and colleagues.

Voting link: 

Voting period is 21st Oct - 18 Nov. Each person gets 10 votes. You can use all 10 votes on 1 project if you wish! Every vote counts! Spread the word!

LOL! Magic moments

This new slideshow is a showcase of smiles; magic moments of happiness, silliness and friendship captured in Blue Coat's play spaces. Whether it's the joy of rolling down a grassy bank, the delight in sharing a wobbly platform with a classmate, or the pleasure and giggles created by bursting into loud, spontaneous song in the gazebo, moments of fun and friendship FEEL GOOD!

Research shows that free-play leads to increased activity levels in young people, but it also offers mental health improvements, such as stress relief, a greater 'sense of self' and positive development of self-esteem. Feelings of pleasure and achievement are also identified as key factors for developing resilience.

Learning Outside the Classroom - vote now!Rachel Murray portrait Blue Coat school

Blue Coat's Play Coordinator Mrs Murray has been shortlisted for a Learning Outside the Classroom (LOTC) award. The Awards for Outstanding Contribution to LOtC recognise individuals and teams of people who are committed to ensuring that young people have inspiring experiences outside the classroom. Mrs Murray is shortlisted for the 'Inspiring Educator' award.

Voting is open now, and takes just 2 clicks. Please vote to show your support! Many thanks.
Click HERE to vote

Beach Babies session autumn term 1BeachBabies

The Play Beach at Blue Coat school field is open for special outdoor play sessions for children under 5 and their parents / carers. Adult supervision is essential. Local parents, grandparents and childminders are all welcome. Buckets and spades are provided. School toilets are accessible for children. Please dress for the weather! The sessions will still run on wet days.


Tuesday afternoons                     Wednesday mornings

2.45 - 3.15pm                                  8.55 - 9.45am

13th September                                 21st September

27th September                                   5th October

11th October

Play Beach ‘Beach Babies’ sessions are free of charge. No booking is required. Parental / adult supervision is essential. Please help keep the school site clean and tidy. No smoking, no dogs on the school site.

Any enquiries, please contact Mrs Murray via the Blue Coat school office.

The Play Beach was supported by Tesco’s Bags of Help, Big Lottery’s Awards for All and Magnox’s Socioeconomic fund.

Welly Share

Thank you to all parents who took part in the welly share that has run before and after school all this week. Loads of nice pairs have been donated to the benefit of other Blue Coat children, and lots of children have found their new free pair and stored them safely in our fabulous welly sheds.
As the autumn and winter months and weather draw nearer, these are the terms where children will really benefit from having their wellies in school, allowing them to continue access large play spaces, including the Play Beach and the field.
If you haven't bought wellies in yet, it's not too late! They can be added to the sheds at any point in the year. The welly share will continue until Friday this week and then I will keep spares in school. If you need a different pair during the year, please do let me know and I will see if we can help.

welly sharewelly sheds full

Family Field Day #2 Aug 2016

We had gorgeous sunshine for the second Family Field Day. Thanks to all who made it along.

Family Field Day Aug 2016

Thanks to all who joined us for the first Family Field Day this afternoon. The sunshine didn't show up but it was great weather for kite flying!



Wildflower 'river' Aug 2016

wildflowers1     wildflowers2






Making change for play July 2016

As we reach the end of another academic year, it's great to look back at all the positive changes we have made together to improve our site and the children's opportunities for play. Many thanks for all who have been involved - you have made an amazing difference! Have a great summer everyone. Mrs Murray

Blue Coat Play Beach Launch!

Sand - by Shirley Hughes

I like sand.
The run-between-your-fingers kind,
The build-it-into-castles kind.
Mountains of sand meeting the sky,
Flat sand, going on forever,
I do like sand.

Building a beach

Construction of the Blue Coat Play Beach is now complete! All 50 tonnes of sand are in the pit, the wooden balance beams and boardwalk are in place, the Beach Hut stripes have been painted, turf put down and grass seed sown. All that remains is installation of a gateway in the existing fenceline, which should happen within the next week. We need to leave the turf to settle for a little while before we open the area for play. Luckily the warm wet weather is really helping with this.
We are on schedule for the Play Beach to open by the end of June. Once we have launched the new play facility we will deliver some special family and community group events. If you work with a local community group serving young people and are interested in arranging a visit, then please get in touch via the website contact form.
Parents will receive a Play Beach FAQ sheet via Parentmail this week, providing more details about the facility and the benfits of sand play.



Reflection Garden

In half term, a small team of parents, staff and pupil volunteers transformed a courtyard space within school into the new Reflection garden. Supported by a community grant from Tyler Grange LLP, this space will provide space for quiet time, either at lunchtime or in classtime for small break out groups. It's perfect for reading, colouring, chess and calm social time with friends.

Thank you for those who gave up their holiday time to help.

Update! - we have received beautiful plant donations today from Landcare, including chocolate mint, wild strawberries, lemon thyme, chives, sedum and honeysuckle. Many thanks 


Blue Coat Play Beach

beach writing

We are ready to start building our brand new outdoor play space – the Play Beach. This giant sandpit will be situated on the school field, on the opposite side of the fence to the Mud Kitchen. It features 50 tonnes of play sand, grass and wildflower mounds, ‘Beach Hut’ storage, a boardwalk and balance beam, and of course, plenty of buckets and spades!

Beach construction starts on Wednesday 25th May and is expected to take four weeks. We are working with outdoor play specialist Green Play Project.

Sand is hugely valuable in terms of children’s play. It offers open-ended opportunities for creativity and investigation (building, testing, deconstruction, tunneling), and allows for carrying out both gross motor (e.g. digging) and fine motor (e.g. adding features, drawing patterns) activities. Sand play can be carried out on your own or within a group or team. The Play Beach itself will create a new social area. The excavated soil will be used to create protective mounds around the beach, creating additional play features and seating. A large net will cover the sand when the pit is not in use, to prevent any contamination from animal scat.

This special playscape has been funded by grants from the Big Lottery ‘Awards for All’, Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ and the Magnox Socioeconomic fund. Initial fundraising work was carried out through Blue Coat’s PTA, allowing us to lever the extra support from external partners.

Watch this space for updates as the project progresses!

Christian Aid week - creating a coin worm

Last week, a wiggly art installation was created on the school playground as Blue Coat children and families took part in a fun fundraising event, in support of Christian Aid Week.
You may be thinking 'Why a worm?'
Families living in Bangladesh face the challenges of livng on islands in the middle of a river. Flooding is a regular occurrence and Christian Aid have already started to help families adapt to the problems by raising their houses and giving them seeds and worms so that they can grow more food.

Piggy banks were raided and pocket money brought in. The children had lots of fun placing their coins with care. Many thanks to all that took part, donating coins and also helping to collect them all up at the end of the day.

UPDATE! - our 100 metre worm raised £342.00! This is enough to change the life of a whole family living on an island in Bangladesh. 
Well done everyone, and especially to Mrs Blaken for leading the initiative.


Family Forest School 'Spring Special'

Over 80 Blue Coat children and adults enjoyed a glorious morning of spring sunshine and fresh air in the latest installment of our Family Forest School and Outdoor Play events programme.
Forest School was open for business - with den building, mud kitchen, digging and bug hunting. Willow cuttings from around the school site were used for weaving shapes and structures.
A 50m 'wildflower river' was sown using seeds from the Grow Wild campaign, and a new hedge was planted with native saplings provided by the Woodland Trust.
Thank you everyone for coming!



Welly Shed launch and more play news

What a great week for play at Blue Coat! Firstly, we had the exciting news that we came second in the Tesco Bags of Help public vote. This means we have won £10,000 to support our Play Beach giant sandpit and outdoor play area! Many, many thanks to all who voted. We can now look forward to this summer and the continued development of the school field for play.

Secondly, we launched the Welly Sheds and Wellies for All initiative. This initiative allows children to access more of our outdoor spaces for a greater part of the year. There is space for a pair of wellies for every pupil, so if you have not joined in yet, then you still can.

Coming up is the next Family Forest School: Spring Special! Sunday 17th April, 10 - 11.30am. All are welcome. Please fill in your reply slip and let us know if you are coming.



Blue Coat scoops National Playwork Award!

We are thrilled to announce we have been awarded a National Playwork award at the 7th Annual Playwork Awards.

PLay Team award march2016

The category Playwork in other contexts celebrates organisations that are not primarily playwork settings, who are using playwork innovatively, and with strong benefit to young people.

Our Play Coordinator, Mrs Murray, collected the award at a glitzy ceremony on Eastbourne Pier, as part of the National Playwork Conference.

Mrs Murray said “To call the recent effort and changes at Blue Coat a 'project' does not do justice to the commitment and passion that the whole school feel towards play, and the fact that play is now more of a 'way of school life' than a project.

All 300 children at the school have benefitted - the benefits can be broadly summarised in three ways; they have space, they have stuff and they have permission! We are thrilled to receive recognition through the National Playwork award”.

All children at Blue Coat have inputted into play developments and shared their thoughts and feelings though a whole-school pupil play survey. Significant areas of the school that were previously out-of-bounds are now open for access. Large loose parts, the ‘Scrap Shed’ and ‘Mud Kitchen’ pots and pans, have provided endless opportunities for creative, active and social play. The playground landscape changes everyday - shaped and shifted by the children. They are swinging in homemade hammocks, building bug homes from mud, 'cooking' the bark chip, riding in milk-crate sleighs, defending a fort, and lying with their friends in the long meadow grass.

The Midday Supervisor team has been transformed into Blue Coat’s Play Team, shaking off the ‘dinner lady’ label and reinvigorated with new job descriptions, new uniforms and play training.

The play areas are not restricted by age and we see fantastic cross-year friendships, and younger children learning social skills from older pupils (and sometimes the other way around!). All benefit from this.

Reception pupils 'settled in' to playground life quickly this year due to the massive choice of activities and 'stuff' for them to get started with, and we have seen an overall improvement in behaviour.
More and more young people are benefitting from the project - younger and older siblings use the site before school, families come to 'out of hours' play events, and funding for our latest play facility, ‘The Play Beach’, a 60 tonne sandpit, will unlock community events for groups serving young people in Wotton under Edge.

In the press: Stroud Life 

World Book Day 2016 hits the playground!

World Book day is always a special, high energy day at school. At break and lunch children got the chance to put their chosen characters to the test! Capes were flying, spells were cast, potions mixed, webs spun, villains defeated and 'Wallys' found! The Play Team joined in the fun this year too, dressing up and delivering some outside story telling at lunchtime.

Here are some photos! (also see main World Book day slideshow through the 'News' section)


Play Beach - Fantastic news!

We are very excited to announce that Blue Coat will be getting a brand new outdoor play area, supported by funding from the new Tesco Bags of Help initiative. This new fund has been generated by the 5p carrier bag charge.

Blue Coat’s Play Beach will be a massive 60 tonne sand pit and outdoor play area located on the school field. It will be accessible to Blue Coat children during school hours, but also will have extended access to local community groups through a programme of special events.

The public (that means you!) will now vote in store from Saturday 27th February until Sunday 6th March on three local projects, deciding which project will win the £8,000, £10,000 or £12,000 awards.

We are guaranteed £8,000, but will be able to extend the project, equipment and storage further still if we win either of the larger awards.

WE NEED YOU! Please, please vote in store! Pass on this message to friends, family, neighbours and local clubs and organisations you are a member of. Every vote will count! Voting for our project will take place in the following stores:

Wotton-under-Edge Express
Dursley Cam Superstore
Tetbury Superstore
Cirencester Extra, Cirencester Metro, Chesterton Cirencester Express

Many thanks in advance for your support

Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork to launch its Bags of Help initiative in hundreds of regions across England and Wales. The scheme will see three community groups and projects in each of these regions awarded grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 – all raised from the 5p bag charge.

Bags of Help offers community groups and projects in each of Tesco’s 390 regions across the UK a share of revenue generated from the five pence charge levied on single-use carrier bags. The public will now vote in store from 27 February until 6 March on who should receive the £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 awards.

In the press: Stroud News and Journal

 New Year, new bark chip, new scrap!

We have had a great start to the new term despite all the rain. The new drainage on the Infant Playground has been really effective and we have not experienced the silty, flooded edge that occurred regularly at this time last year.
A couple of trips to the Children's Scrapstore in Bristol have renewed the Scrap Shed. Children have enjoyed investigating the new items.
After a year of constant use and all the recent heavy rain, the Mud Kitchen needed a bark-chip top-up. Many thanks to all the pupils and parents who volunteered their time to help, making short of a large, physical job with team work and good humour.
Work has begun on the planted bank in the Infant Playground and welly sheds have started to arrive on site, so we have much to look forward to over the next few months.


Galaxy Hot Chocolate Fund winners!

A big thank you to all who voted over the Christmas holiday, supporting Blue Coat PTA in their application for funds to support Blue Coat's Forest School programme. We won the public vote and £300.

Blue Coat Welly Share event 15-16th Dec

To support our new Wellies for All initiative that will be launching in tDSCN1785he New Year we are running a welly share event. Children's wellies in good condition can be donated to pass on to other Blue Coat pupils. Welly donation bins are located next to the school office (outside). We will take donations up to 14th December.
Donated wellies will be put out on tables on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th December at school pick up. If you are in need of wellies for your Blue Coat children next term then please come and see if there is a spare pair for you.

Many thanks for your support!

Wellies for All

Wellies for All is a Blue Coat school initiative with the aim that all Blue Coat pupils will have access to a pair of wellies in school for use at playtimes and other outdoor learning experiences.

Why Are We Making this Change?
A key aspect of improving Blue Coat’s outdoor experience is to make the very best use of our spacious grounds. However, access to some areas can be heavily restricted during the winter months due to wetness and mud. Currently, this means children only have access to smaller hard-surface play areas, leading to issues of crowding, limited play options and therefore less valuable, enjoyable play.
Opening up access to as much of the site as possible for as much of the year as possible allows the children to get the full benefits of our child-led outdoor play approach, i.e. increased physical activity; improved mental health; and active practice and development of key social skills.

How Will It Work?
Blue Coat is investing in bespoke Welly Sheds that will house all school wellies outside. The sheds will be weatherproof and lockable. Children will access the wellies themselves (with support) after they have eaten lunch (or before special sessions, including Forest School) so that they can use them to access the wider school site.

What Benefits Should The Welly Shed Bring To Your Child And The School?
- Continued use of as much of the outdoor site as possible year round, including areas that may be wet and/or muddy e.g. the field, the Mud Kitchen, and some new marked areas for development
- School shoes will be kept dry and clean (as should trousers/tights!)
- Mud should be kept out of the school’s indoor environment
- Storage outside will avoid cluttering of cloakroom areas inside

How can You Support this Initiative?
Please provide your child with a pair of name-labelled wellies. These will stay in school and return home at the end of each term. Wellies should be brought into school on Thursday 7th January.

Our aim is for all Blue Coat pupils to have a pair of wellies to use during lunchtime. We hope every pupil can take part in this scheme. If you choose not to take part, then some areas of the school site mentioned will not be accessible to your child due to inappropriate footwear.

Blue Coat Orchard Morning

It is National Tree Week, and this morning Blue Coat families braved the 50mph winds and met on the school field to plant our own mini orchard.
Supported by a Windfalls Orchard grant from The Tree Council, 9 apple and pear trees were planted in the area next to Forest School.
60 native saplings of rowan, silver birch and cherry were planted nearby, donated by the Woodland Trust as part of the WW1 Centenary Woodlands scheme.
Finally, spring bulbs were planted throughout the area, thanks to generous donations from Thompson and Morgan and from Unwins.
Many thanks to all who came and took part despite the challenging conditions! Our efforts will be rewarded with buds and blossom in the spring, fruit in the autumn and a great new space for wildlife, learning and play all year around.


Adventures in bubble wrap

Recycled and scrap materials now feature heavily on the playground as items that the children can choose for play. This means that alongside the rackets, balls, and Duplo you will find second-hand pans, unwanted suitcases, recycled dressing-up clothes and keyboards that would have been otherwise heading for land-fill. This successful approach of 'Low cost - High value' means that we can offer the children a huge variety of materials without breaking the bank. All items are checked for suitability before play. Many thanks to all who have made scrap donations.

Today, we were lucky to receive a donation of a large roll of scrap bubble wrap from a Blue Coat grandparent. It only lasted for one break - but it generated a huge amount of fun and activity. Please take a look at the slideshow below.


Autumn antics!

Autumn term 2 is underway, bringing with it fallen leaves, rain and a bit of mud! Children are helped with the change in season with reminders for coats and jumpers, hand-washing before lunch and before returning to the classroom, and shoe-wiping on the door mats. The new drainage channels on the Infant Playground seem to be working well, so we have seen none of the flooding or silty puddles that we had last year.
You will have received a Parentmail about a new family event on Sunday 29th November. We will be planting our own mini orchard on the school field, plus other tree saplings, spring bulbs, and doing other fun, outdoor activities. The event is kindly supported by grants and donations from The Tree Council (fruit trees), the Woodland Trust (saplings) and Thompson and Morgan (bulbs). All are welcome - put the date in your diary!

Here is a 'window to the playground' slideshow, giving you an idea of what the children have been up to so far this term.

Platinum award ceremony

We held a special play assembly today, as Blue Coat received our Platinum level Play Award from Michael Follett, CEO of OPAL Outdoor Play and Learning. Well done everyone!

IMG 4151

 Back to school, back to play!

The new term is underway, with new friendships being forged, new kit to play with, and new drains on the Infant Playground!
We also have two new members of staff and welcome Mrs Joynson and Mr Taylor to the Play Team.
Later this week we will be welcoming new Reception children into the Playground and supporting their first lunch time sessions at school. In the mean time, we have been taking advantage of the smashing September sunshine and stretching our legs on the school field every lunchtime.


Platinum Play!DSCN0575

We are thrilled to announce that following a full assessment on Friday afternoon, Blue Coat has achieved a Platinum level award for the quality of our outdoor play at lunchtime. With a score of 91.7%, this puts Blue Coat within the top 15 schools in the country in terms of high quality play provision.
Our assessment was conducted by Michael Follett, Director of Outdoor Play and Learning CIC (OPAL). Michael is a qualified teacher and play worker, is a Trustee for the national charity Play England, and Play Adviser to the National Trust and the Football Association (FA).

Michael participated in a full lunchtime session, with a site tour to observe and interact with pupils and the Play Team, assessing the opportunities, environments and support we provide for play. This was followed by a in-depth audit session with the Headteacher, Play Coordinator and PTA Chair, examining all aspects of our play provision, including access, supervision, health and safety and maintenance, policy, leadership and participation.
Areas that recieved high praise were the inclusion of man-made and natural 'loose parts' play, improved engagement for girls, the significant reduction in behaviour incidents, high quality direct, remote and roving play supervision practices, and a whole-school approach to play involving Governors, Headteacher, teachers, support staff, pupils, families and the wider community.

Congratulations everyone! A wonderful result for what is now emerging as a real specialism for Blue Coat. Thank you to all who have supported the Play initiative. There are lots of exciting plans still to come!

Follow us on Twitter!   @Blue_Coat_Play


Scrap Shed launch

Blue Coat's new 'large loose parts' play facility, the Scrap Shed, launched today, with a special celebration event and ribbon cutting, led by our Future Leaders.
‘Loose parts’ are items and materials that children can move, adapt, control, change and manipulate within their play. They provide a high level of creativity and choice, as there are endless possibilities for how they can be used. Research has shown that the degree of creativity and inventiveness within an environment is directly proportional to the number of variables in it.
The items are diverse and include suitcases, plastic and cardboard tubes, tubs, tarpaulins, keyboards, phones, nets, handbags, hosepipe and more.
All scrap has been checked over before use and will continue to be regularly checked over and topped up.

Two slideshows below tell the Scrap Shed story - the first one details the 'making of', and the second shows the children at play with the scrap from launch day.

Colourful creations

The warm weather has opened a new play opportunity for the children, with dry playgrounds serving as giant outdoor canvasses.
Semi-permanent painted playground markings are relatively expensive and, after an initial surge of interest on their arrival, tend to quickly wane in popularity due to their static nature and becoming 'part of the furniture'.

An alternative is provision of large playground chalks. A less expensive solution, chalks offer more open-ended creative opportunities for the children. Recent ephemeral art activity has included free drawing, giant floor murals, character creation and storyboarding, printing and blending. Children have also drawn their own games; some traditional versions such as noughts-and-crosses, others are brand new games, created and refined with friends during playtime.
One quick rain shower and the canvas is clean again!
Take a look at some of the recent arty activity in this Chalk Gallery.

Good Day Sunshine

We have been lucky to have day after day of dry conditions and lovely sunshine, enabling us to use lots of the site and have the top field open every day. Don't forget to bring in sun hats and apply sunscreen in the summer term!

This slideshow shows some of the fun we have been having in the sun in May and June!


Active Kids

Thank you all for you support in collecting and returStiltsning Sainsbury's Active Kids vouchers. The scheme has now closed for 2015 and we have sorted and counted all the vouchers - amassing a whopping 6810 points. A group of Junior Future Leaders have helped select a large list of items that we would like in exchange for our vouchers. The sporty shopping list includes foot-, net-, basket-, rugby and tennis balls, stilts, hoops, pompoms, rackets, scoops, skipping ropes, streamers, noodles, a kickflick and some brooms, plus a new pump and some bags to move the equipment around.
Many thanks to all who returned vouchers - the value of our 'free' equipment is over £320.

Scrap Shed is coming!

A brand new play facility in planned for the playground in this summer term. The Scrap Shed is a storage shed specifically for housing 'large loose parts' for play. The contents will be accessible to all Blue Coat pupils during lunchtimes, and will offer opportunities for open-ended, creative and imaginative play.

For more information on this type of play, please see 

N.B. Blue Coat is making its own Scrap Shed, but the principles are based on the Children's Scrapstore's Play Pods model.

We need your help! We are collecting donations of recycled, scrap materials to fill our Scrap Shed. Pots and pans, suitcases, guttering, tarpaulins, plastics tubs, trugs, shower curtains and bread trays are all suitable. A note should have reached you via Parent Mail by now. The collections bins will be located by the School Office from Monday 1st - Weds 10th June.
For more updates, watch this space!

 National Children's Day 2015DSCN5982

This Sunday 17th May is National Children's Day. The theme this year is 'The Science and Magic of Play'. The focus on the importance of play mirrors Blue Coat's own plans and priorities, so we are joining in the celebrations.

Firsly, children in Class Hannu took part in a special project combining the science of growing with the creation of a new outdoor den space. Runner beans, climbing French beans and edible flowers called nasturtiums have all been planted and grown with care by the children. The young plants have now all been planted outside on a teepee frame, ready to scramble up the poles to create a leafy den.

Secondly, we will be celebrating play in the field this weekend as part of the annual Blue Coat May Fayre. The fayre is organised by the PTA and runs from 11.30am - 2.30pm on Saturday 16th May. An area of the field will be dedicated to play. You can create your own giant marble run from scrap, get hula hooping with your friends, or create your own Hawaiian skirt from recycled materials. 

For more information on NCDUK 2015 and play, see 

Update: Take a look at Blue Coat's May Fayre 2015!

 Outdoor play in spring

The children and the Play Team have been enjoying the recent spring sunshine, with the drier conditions helping us make the most of one of our greatest play assets - the field! The field is open as much as possible at lunchtime, giving lots of space for football, piggybacks, cartwheels and even the odd human pyramid - all activities that are possible when on the soft grass rather than hard tarmac. New footballs have been purchased for playtime, and the new additions of tree stumps, pallet stage and logs are all in regular use.

Elsewhere on site, the Mud Kitchen continues to be very popular, and the children have really made this space their own, setting and resetting the environment to their liking each day. The staff are amazed on daily basis as to just how many different ways you can play with a tyre!

 Meadow morning

Over 60 Blue Coat children, families and friends joined with Mr Brooks and Mrs Murray this weekend for the Meadow Morning. The big idea was to create some large wildflower beds on the Top Field, whilst at the same time having a fun Forest School morning and enjoying some family-time outdoors.

A great time was had by all! Activities included sowing wildflower seeds, making and scattering seed bombs, hand-drilling your own wooden pendant, fabulous den building, willow brooms and clay creatures.

All our wildflower seeds were donated - so a big thank you to Grow Wild, Boston Seeds and Thompson & Morgan. Special thanks also to Mr Carlton, Mrs Yeoman, Mrs Bryce, Mrs Buckley and Mr Murray for helping to set up and deliver the event. Read more in the school's Latest News.

Making change for play

Spring has arrived and the beautiful cherry blossom greeted us all on our return after the Easter break. Always the first to make the most of new opportunities, the children have incorporated catkins, daisies, cherry blossom and dandelion flowers into their play. The Reception children have enjoyed their first lunchtime up on the school field. Now the warmer, drier weather has arrived we'll be using this great space as often as possible.

A change in the season gives us a chance to look back over the 6 months and the changes we have made across our site, all with the plan of making Blue Coat a better place for play. Some changes have been obvious, such as the creation of our Mud Kitchen. Others have been more slow or subtle. A new mowing regime on the field should give us long grass meadow path this summer. Trees planted at the Family Forest School day are bursting into life. Willow cuttings planted on a cold winter's morning are changing the flow of play in the Infant Adventure Playground.

The slideshow below brings together some of the elements of transformation. The plan for play continues - we are now looking at developing the grassy mound behind the Top Court, fundraising for an orchard and giant sandpit, and all are welcome to the wildflower meadow planting morning on Sat 25 April .


Small spaces

Whilst some Blue Coat pupils head straight for the wide-open, fast moving pace of the Top Playground for games of basketball or playing tag, many others seek out the quieter nooks and crannies of the playground.Storage bench den

There are many small play spaces across the site. They can be as simple as a quiet corner, a dry strip under a window sill, squeezing behind a bench or  bush, or tucking away in the new 'Creature Corner'.
These areas provide rich social play experiences, and are great for uninterupted imaginative play. The children make these spaces their own and the playground landscape is ever-changing. Coats on the floor create comfy 'beds', tyres are arranged and rearranged for seats, a storage bench becomes a temporary den, and creative artistic arrangements of natural materials are discovered at tidy-up time nearly every day!

As we further develop our areas for play, we will clear and create more 'small spaces', providing quieter corners and opportunities for relaxation, socialisation and play.

What did you play with today?DSCN0398

Over the last week all eyes have been on Blue Coat's Mud Kitchen, as we launched the new play space and even welcomed a reporter from BBC Radio Gloucestershire for a live interview on site!
However, the Mud Kitchen is just one of the spaces available to children at break and lunchtime. Blue Coat is lucky to have a variety of outdoor spaces and the long-term plan is to make the very best of all areas and to continue on-site development with play in mind.

As parents do not get to see what happens during lunchtime, this web page will be used to give a virtual window onto the playground. A common enquiry from parents is about what toys and equipment there are for the children to play with at lunchtime, so the following slideshow shows some of the 'tools of play' available over the last week. Not everything is captured here - it's very difficult to get a good shot of the older children running and throwing on the Top Playground as they move so quickly!


Mud Kitchen arrives!IMG 3045

During the February break, a transformation has been happening to the muddy area behind the play sheds in the Infant playground.
With help from a grant from Gloucestershire County Council's Active Together scheme, plus volunteer time from Tyler Grange LLP, the Blue Coat Parents for Play group and PTA, the 400m2 area has been changed into Blue Coat's Mud Kitchen.

This area has been out of bounds during the wetter winter months, due to slippery, muddy conditions. Now the ground is covered in 25m3 of play-grade bark chip, allowing it be accessed throughout the whole year.
The new space combines natural materials, such as logs, bark, pine cones and tree stumps, with recycled materials such as pots and pans, tyres and tables. Outdoor storage allows everything to be tidied away. The whole area is edged with wood donations from Westonbirt Arboretum.
We hope the Mud Kitchen will provide many new opportunities for creative and active outdoor play. All we need to do now is add the children!

Many thanks to ALL who contributed. Here is the transformation:

...and here are the children putting it to the test at break time on the first Monday back!

Outdoor play in winter

The children have been enjoying outdoor play at break at lunchtimes, wrapping up and getting out-and-about despite the recent cold temperatures.

We had a fantastic Forest School Open Morning in late January, plantingDSCN0115 young trees and willow on the top field, plus a whole host of other activities, including den building, bug hunting, clay sculptures and willow weaving.

The keen-eyed amongst you may have noticed a new shed next to the Infant Playground. This addition will become Blue Coat's new Scrap Shed later this spring, offering new creative and imaginative play opportunities, including construction and role play. Many thanks to Blue Coat's PTA for raising funds for both the tree saplings and the Scrap Shed.

The slideshow below contains a selection of recent photos from the playground to give you a flavour of activity at lunchtime.

The Appointment of Blue Coat's Play Co-ordinator, September 2014

We are delighted to announce that we have successfully appointed a Play Co-ordinator to lead high quality play at Blue Coat. Rachel Murray will be working closely with our pupils, senior leaders and governors over the coming months and years to ensure that our play project results in memorable and exciting play opportunities for all. Watch this space for updates!

OPAL Development Meeting, February 2014

2014-03-26 10.01.25 amThe development team met with Michael Follett to consider how the grounds might evolve over the medium to long term so as to form a strategic view of where the project needs to get to.
We were inspired by the grounds of several european schools when thinking of how we might develop our own. Of course, children will have the ultimate say in the matter but as a vision setting process it was very exciting to explore possibilities.
Michael was commissioned to draw up the strategic plan and this can be read in the link below. Helpfully he has included images of other play areas to accompany description and a map of the school site to put the plans into context for the reader.

Blue Coat OPAL Grounds Development Plan 2014

A Policy for Play at Blue Coat


Parent Meeting with OPAL, November 2013

Michael Follett from OPAL held a parent audience in a meeting focussed on Blue Coat’s decision to review its approach to play at break and lunch times. Michael has worked with over 180 schools on developing their programme of play, is a member of the board for Play England and has worldwide recognition for his work in this field.

The presentation to parents set the scene by addressing how quality play is often put at risk due to factors associated with modern lifestyles. In this context, he underlined the responsibility that schools have in order to conserve and promote rich, purposeful play for our children.




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Head's Tweet

from Mr Ryan

A reminder for contacting school by email: admin @ bluecoat. gloucs. sch. uk

10 Jul 20 at 11:19am