Platinum Play Puts Blue Coat in National Top 15 of Schools

P1100552It's been 2 years since the school embarked on the OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) project. Without a Play Co-ordinator to spearhead the first year, we found it difficult to make progress with the ambitious plans we had for our pupils' play. That all changed, this academic year, with the appointment of Mrs Murray who has formed and led a fantastic 'Play Team'. They have trained and worked tirelessly to ensure that play times for our children are valuable, exciting and fulfilling. 

In addition to this, parental support has been outstanding. We have been able to introduce children's risk management as an inherent part of their play, realising that this is a key life skill that needs practising before adolescence. The mud kitchen was conceived over the spring half-term with a team of staff and parents bringing to life a redundant, boggy part of the school site and transforming it into a well-loved, creative area for imaginative and social play. All the while, we have made requests for scrap materials which have generously filled every container that we have put out for collection!

The field has had a makeover too. We now have renewed mowing regimes which have allowed areas of scrubland to develop with winding paths that the children traverse and hide along. Hedgerows have re-grown and now the children have dens in which to socialise, imagine and tinker to their hearts' content! Wild flowers, logs, pallet stages, bug hotels, willow saplings and more have also appeared and all have added great play potential to our site.

Bearing in mind this rapid journey since September 2014, we were keen to have the school re-audited for its play provision by Michael Follett from OPAL. On Friday, Michael spent lunchtime observing the play opportunities and how the children engaged with them. He was stunned by the progress that the school had made in such a short time and how our children had taken to the play, commenting that it was worlds apart from our initial audit two years ago when the children had bare playgrounds and a few pieces of sports equipment to hold their attention.

The progress was so great that the school scored enough to reach 91% on the audit, a score which qualifies Blue Coat for a deep score within the OPAL 'Platinum Play Award' category! This is enough to put Blue Coat in the top 15 of schools in the country for its quality of play provision - a title that we are very proud of.

A huge thank you to everyone mentioned above in the achievement of this prestigious award. In particular, we'd like to thank Mrs Murray and the Play Team for a great deal of hard work and inspiration.

An award ceremony will follow in the autumn term. In the meantime, this is what 'Platinum Play' looks like at our school...well done, everyone!

[Please see the Play Blog for more information.]