World Book Day 2020 hits the playground

Happy World Book Day everyone!

New Scrap Shed! Dec 2019

IMG 3223This week we finally opened our new scrap shed. Every class completed a 'scrap shopping list' and Mrs Murray did her best to source the desirable, new loose parts ready for the 'ribbon cutting' event.

Future Leaders did the honours of cutting the ribbon, accompanied by fantastic drumming by Eric, which really added to the lively and positive playground vibes.

Loose parts form an essential part of our play offer at Blue Coat. Mr Ryan has posted his own thoughts on why we play with 'scrap' and what other elements come together to make this a successful part of our everyday playground life. See here for his article: Shed Seven (minus four!)

Here are some photos from the day:

Blue Coat play hitting the headlines!

awardresizeGreat coverage of our recent Playwork Award in the Gazette:


Gazette article 21st March 2019


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. 


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.