Celebrating Outdoor Classroom Day 2019

IMG 1067The whole school had a fantastic time celebrating Outdoor Classroom Day 2019. Every class had at least one lesson or activity outside, as well as our award winning lunchtime OPAL play and a wonderful outdoor worship with the Open the Book team.

It was fantastic to walk around school and find every outdoor space filled with children and activity. Class Cook started the day with guided reading outside and later were to be found composing their own music in the shade of the cherry trees at the front of the school. Class Tabei took Class Hannu on a texture walk around the field; the older pupils acting as scribes as the younger pupils used their senses and described their feelings. Class Drake went marching around the Junior playground whilst practicing their tables and counting up in 2s and Class Darwin took their spelling test outside! The Reception and Infant classes all weeded and planted up their playground vegetable beds. We're looking forward to seeing these grow throughout next term.

We are used to playing outdoors every day, but this special playtime was enhanced with a huge pile of cardboard boxes, fresh herbs and pinecones in the Mud Kitchen and a massive outdoor art station.

The Open the Book team were good sports, as always, and accepted the challenge of an outdoor worship on the field. We all enjoyed listening to and watching the story of the Good Samaritan

Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On the day, thousands of schools around the world take lessons outdoors and prioritise playtime. In 2018, over 3.5 million children in over 100 countries took part. 


Blue Coat play hitting the headlines!

awardresizeGreat coverage of our recent Playwork Award in the Gazette:

Gazette article 21st March 2019


Blue Coat receives national Playwork Award!

awardresizeFantastic news!

Blue Coat has been awarded a national Playwork Award in the category 'Playwork in other contexts'. Mrs Murray picked up the playful 'woodpecker' trophy at the Annual Playwork Conference and Award evening in Eastbourne earlier this week (March 5th).

Mrs Murray, Blue Coat's Play Coordinator said,

"It is wonderful to have Blue Coat's commitment to play and a playwork approach in school recognised with this award. A really special thing about our journey over the last 5 years is the support we have received from the whole school community; donations to support play (pans, suitcases, wellies, boats!), parents cleaning toys, building Mud Kitchen furniture and mending existing equipment, or even just the not minding too much about grass stained knees, grubby socks and pockets filled with nature's treasures!
Special thanks should go to Blue Coat PTA for providing the initial funding for the school to work with OPAL Outdoor Play and Learning CiC and, of course, to the Blue Coat pupils, for responding with such energy and enthusiasm to every new opportunity presented to them."


Girl power and play!

P6180048It's International Women's Day, so a great opportunity to take the time to reflect on how being an OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) school and adopting a playwork approach at Blue Coat has benefitted the young women in our school.

There are multiple biological, pyschological and social benefits presented to all children through play, but this blog focusses on the improved opportunities for increased activity and physical expression for girls.

DSC01125 2The '5 ways to wellbeing' report was researched and developed by the New Economics Foundation, commissioned for the Government's Foresight ‘Mental capital and wellbeing’ project. This research recommended five actions that could be taken to improve mental health and wellbeing; one of these being 'Be Active' and particularly to take part in physical activity that you enjoy.

Five years ago, before we started our journey with OPAL Outdoor Play and Learning CiC, play was undeveloped at our school. This didn't mean that girls were not playful, but it did mean that an audit of our play offer showed that girls' play was quite marginalised and muted, and that behaviours such as hiding in the toilets, holding teachers' hands or just waiting for play to finish were evident.

DSCN1483As soon as changes began, the Blue Coat girls immediately responded to all new opportunities with relish! They were hungry for more! Simple additions like playground chalk, loose parts and active play kit (e.g hula hoops) were snapped up and positively affected play.

P5100010When permission was given, girls showed us that they love being upside-down and that some of them had great physical competence when it came to flipping, spinning, cartwheeling and handstanding. Their competence and skills were enjoyed by other children and inspired physical play in others.

DSC08717Opening up the field for the whole year, rather than just dry, summer days gave girls the space to do 'social balancing'; full body challenges presented through fantastic activities such as human pyramids, tyre dancing and acro-gymnastic displays.

P3270082Girls at Blue Coat now have greatly improved opportunities to express themselves physically and go '100% full throttle' if they desire; running as fast as they can, leaping as far as they dare, carrying and dragging large loads of loose parts and riding on tractors! This all contributes to improved mental health, wellbeing and happiness - as reported to us by them through pupil play surveys.



Blue Coat shortlisted for play award


Great news!

Blue Coat has been shortlisted for a national Playwork Award. The category is 'Playwork in other contexts' and we will find out if we have been successful at the Playwork Awards ceremony in Eastbourne on Tuesday 5th March (as part of the Annual Playwork Conference).

Making the shortlist is wonderful recognition of the play journey we have been on over the last 5 years, and transformation of our site, attitude and approach to play within Blue Coat. Thank you and well done to EVERYONE in the school community for playing your part in this success. And fingers crossed.....!

Mrs Murray will tweet from the awards ceremony. You can follow this on Twitter: @Blue_Coat_Play


Head's Tweet

from Mr Ryan

Well done, children, for your Harvest Celebration at St Mary's today.

Friday at 12:49pm