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Mead Vale CommunityPrimary SchoolWork Hard. Be Kind.


Welcome toMead Vale CommunityPrimary SchoolWork Hard. Be Kind.

Opal Play

At Mead Vale we believe play and learning go hand-in-hand.  Playtime takes up 20% of a child's day in school and provides opportunities for children to learn all the things that cannot be taught: socialisation, co-operation, co-ordination, resilience, creativity, imagination and negotiation.

UN Convention on the rights of the child - Article 31

"All Children have the right to relax and play and join in with a wide range of cultural & artistic activities"

Childhood has changed drastically during the last 25 years.  Children haven't.  Lives are busier and technology has changed the way that we all live our lives.  With more restrictions on our time and access to space, research has shown that only 56% of UK children play outside with other children and that many are averaging up to 5 hours of screen time a day.  Unfortunately, this means that children sometimes miss out on the creative and physical side of play that is so crucial to their development.  This is one of our key motivators for embarking on this project.

Our OPAL journey began in September 2022 and since this time, we have started to transform our outdoor environment. Our children love the new outdoor opportunities and the OPAL approach offers so much more for them to do! Through this approach to play, children are not only more active at lunch or break times, but they are also having the opportunity to further develop life skills such as co-operation, team work and problem solving.  They are becoming motivated and enthusiastic builders, engineers, explorers & designers. 


Q: What are the benefits of the OPAL Primary Programme?


More teaching time - most schools report ten minutes more teaching time per teacher, with happier, more creative, and well exercised children who settle to classes much more quickly.

Improved behaviour - OPAL schools report up to 80% decreases in use of behaviour policies and 90% drops in time spent in resolving playtime issues.

Faster core skills development - Children at OPAL schools rapidly develop creativity, imagination, co-operation, resilience, stamina and confidence.

Inclusion - OPAL's approach makes play better for every child, every exceptions!

Happiness and wellbeing - Play is a human need and a human right.  Children and staff at OPAL's schools report feeling less stressed and happier, and more excited about school. 


OPAL Play at Mead Vale

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Mead Vale OPAL Play assembly risk-benefit log

The purpose of Risk Benefit Assessments are to enable us to provide challenge, progression, excitement, creativity and fun in our play environment. They cannot and will not provide complete ‘safety’ and this is not their purpose.


They can help us to think about, predict, and manage the most serious and most likely potential causes of harm.

We have two approaches to managing risk:


Standing Benefit-Risk Assessments and Dynamic Risk Management

Standing Risk Benefit Assessments means we look at our usual environment and practices at least annually, and also when significant changes take place and keep a written record of the areas in the table below.


Dynamic Risk Benefit Management

This means that staff should be aware of changing nature of the play taking place. They should support children to assess and manage risk as much as possible for themselves, but they should also be vigilant and take action, if they think that risk of serious harm is becoming unacceptably likely. Actions taken by staff when required should balance the reduction of likelihood or severity or harm with preserving as much of the benefit of the play as possible, and empowering the children to manage future risk as much as possible.


Common areas that need standing assessment include:

Boundaries to dangerous areas, trees management and tree climbing, fixed equipment and inspection, broken loose parts, rope tying especially at height, water use and water features.


Staff will carry out daily, on-going risk assessment and pass on any potential hazards to a member of SLT.


An example of our log is below and more information is available on request.