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.

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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."

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Blue Coat Play Vision

 

DSCN1451It's Global School Play Day 2019, and what better way to celebrate than to launch Blue Coat's Vision for Play (and, of course, enjoy some outdoor play!)

Our Play Vision was drafted by Blue Coat Year 6 pupils in the summer term 2018. The pupils were interviewed by Mrs Murray and had the chance to reflect on their play at school, to talk about what they felt was important and how their playtimes affected the rest of their time at school.

The Play Vision paints a picture of what we feel play at Blue Coat could and should be. The six statements describe what we would like all Blue Coat pupils to experience and feel through their play by the time they reach year 6. It also shows how much Blue Coat values play and is committed to supporting play for all our pupils.

The Play Vision has been presented to all pupils and staff and will inform our decision making and guide our future activities.

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We live out our Christian values through play
- our core Christian values are practiced in our play
- respectful, responsible, creative and happy moments happen every day
- we can link these moments, our actions and our feelings

We are free
- play time is our time to play and relax
- we can choose what we want to do and who we want to play with
- we have lots of choice

DSC00430We are free-ranging
- we play outside all year
- a variety of spaces are open to us
- we are active every day

We are a community
- we all get to have our say
- our thoughts and actions help to improve outdoor play
- everyone in the school counts

We learn whilst we play
- play helps us to recognise our own strengths
- we can try new things
- we develop our people-skills and friendships through play

PLay Team award march2016We are supported
- we are confident that the adults at Blue Coat think our play time is important
- we are listened to
- we know that we can ask for help if we need it


 

Blue Coat shortlisted for play award

shortlist

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


 

Autumn play terms 1 and 2, 2018

The first two terms of year 2018/19 have flown by and suddenly we are ready to break up for Christmas.

We've had a lovely start to the year, welcoming our new EYFS 'Buddies' in September, developing the play space behind 'The Mound', our 10 Year Forest School celebration, tree planting, bulb planting and taking advantage of all the natural loose parts that autumn brings.

Wheeled play on our playground tractors and trike has been popular with all ages and we now have some new seated scooters from Father Christmas to enjoy in the New Year.

Our welly sheds continue to serve us well and have allowed us to continue using the field and Play Beach as the wetter weather arrived.

Here are some photos from the last 2 terms showing the real range of how children play at Blue Coat, whatever the weather.

 We're looking forward to a playful new year. Join us on Friday 4th January 10am - 12pm for our next Playing Out event on the school driveway and car park.

Merry Christmas from Mrs Murray and the Blue Coat Play Team.


Head's Tweet

from Mr Ryan

PLAYWORK AWARD WINNERS 2019! Blue Coat play continues to gain national recognition for excellence. Well done, everyone!

08 Mar 19 at 9:59am