The OPAL Primary Programme

The new OPAL Booklet will tell you all you need to know about the UK’s only proven programme for supporting school improvement through play.



  • Introduction meeting
  • Observation and Audit meeting
  • 3 Development meetings (including safety/risk management, staff best practice and managing resources)
  • Awards and final plan meeting
  • INSET on play
  • Parents meeting
  • Half-day grounds master planning workshop
  • Over 100 cross referenced resource documents and templates
  • Unlimited email and phone support
  • 30+ years of play development expertise
  • Support over 12-18 months
  • Design advice

Services and Prices

The OPAL Primary Programme   The usual delivery period is 12-18 months £4250 plus travel.


Many of the schools OPAL works with are Ofsted ‘outstanding’ and OPAL has been praised in Ofsted school inspection reports.

Ofsted looks for behaviour which supports learning and well-being. They seek the core skills that are best accrued by children through high quality play, including co-operation, context rich language use, problem solving, negotiation, creativity and mental and physical well-being. OPAL enables schools to clearly evidence both a base-line and also a monitorable improvement strategy for active learning, well being and physical activity.


Children spend 1.4 years of their primary school attendance in playtime. This time is valuable and needs coherent planning.

Changes in culture and society have led to ‘play poverty’ in childhood which has numerous negative impacts.

Better play means happier children. Happier children mean less behaviour problems, a more positive attitude to school, more effective lessons, core skills development, less staff time spent resolving unnecessary problems, less accidents and happier staff…more


OPAL was developed in response to demand from schools for help in resolving issues at playtime, including boredom, high levels of accidents and playground incidents, lack of respect for supervisors and a constant stream of low-level behaviour problems, as well as a desire to improve the quality of children’s play experience in school. Schools expected the resolution to lie in better occupation for the children such as playground games, behaviour management training for the supervisors or more equipment for the children. All of these were tried during the programme’s development, but none had a significant lasting effect.

To Avoid

Our experience has led us to the conclusion that children will play with anything that is different for up to six weeks. The three points below are the items schools report having short-term or limited play value.

  1. Unchallenging so-called ‘challenging play equipment’, such as many standard trim-trails that schools buy without firstly gaining an understanding of whether they actually meet their children’s needs! These trail structures can often be extremely low in play value, low in financial cost-benefit, much too simple for most KS1 and KS2 children and therefore are far too easily mastered.
  2. Most playground markings and most surfacing.
  3. One-off workshops for play staff.
  4. Designating a space as a quiet area or friendship bench

OPAL has extensive knowledge of how to spend your money wisely, to maximise long term play value.

How your school will benefit from the OPAL Primary Programme



OPAL Works to Support Learning
OPAL has been independently proven to be highly effective at helping schools bring about sustainable and beneficial change and is used as an example of best practice by DCSF, Skills Active, KIDS and Play England.
OPAL will help meet new OFSTED requirements for activities which support learning.

OPAL Saves Money
An average school will save £2000-£4500 a year!The amount of time spent each day by professional staff having to deal with niggling behavioural problems arising from poor quality playtimes will quickly reduce after the implementation of the OPAL programme. Many of our client Headteachers have said that their problems have completely disappeared.
Schools spend a great deal of money on equipment with very limited, short-term play value.
OPAL will show you how to get maximum play value for minimum spending.

OPAL Gives you Peace of Mind
OPAL will help you understand the latest guidance on the law concerning risk, play and the Health and Safety at Work Act. We will help you develop appropriate policies so that your staff can let children play in confidence that you are doing the right thing by them and the law.
OPAL will give you the confidence to use risk assessment to enable and not eliminate risk.

OPAL Helps Children and Adults Enjoy School More.
Stress has a damaging impact on the effectiveness of children and adults in school. It stops staff from doing their jobs and it prevents children from learning. OPAL helps children have much richer and more satisfying playtimes, taking the strain off adults and creating a more co-operative and creative culture within the school.
OPAL will enable a happier environment for learning, playing and working.

OPAL Demonstrates Quality

OPAL Awards show that a school has reached clearly defined stages in providing the conditions for great play and universality addressing children’s well-being and rights. OPAL quality awards are Silver, Gold and Platinum.

OPAL will help your school creating lasting improvements to your school.

It is the only play development programme created by a Local Authority School Improvement Service and provides quantifiable data for school improvement evidence for governors, parents or OFSTED.