OPAL MENTORS UK TEAM

Michael Follett
Director

I am the founding director of OPAL. I am a former school improvement adviser, teacher and playworker. I now speak on play in schools and early years internationally… Find out more


Neil Coleman
OPAL Midlands
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OPAL Midlands is a regional office of OPAL, established in the Home Counties to give easier access and support for schools, early years settings and organisations located in the London, East and South-East area of England. Neil Coleman, who runs OPAL Midlands, trained alongside Michael to become an accredited OPAL Mentor in early 2013. Neil is able to offer all OPAL services.. Find out more


Ingrid Wilkinson
OPAL North East

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Ingrid delivers the OPAL programme in and around Newcastle and the North-East.

I have a degree in Playwork, formally worked for Play England and am experienced in working with schools and supporting change within organisations… Find out more


Kurt Birkenbiel
OPAL South

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Kurt delivers the OPAL programme in and around Brighton, the south coast, Suffolk, Hampshire and South London.

“Feeling passionate about the power of play ever since I climbed on board of a Playbus, back in 1998 in Hamburg, to work with refugee children. They had no common language but I witnessed how the power play brought them together in joy. Since then I have studied Playwork (University of Brighton, FDA), promoted and provided for Article 31, the Children’s Right to Play in social hotspots, schools for children with additional needs, run mobile summer community play programs and free play centred family days for children and their imprisoned fathers at HMP Lewes. After running Brighton and Hove City Council’s Playbus for a decade I joined in 2016 the play forces with Michael Follett & OPAL. If only both my boys could have enjoyed an OPAL school. I feel deeply grateful to make a difference to an ever-growing number of school children enjoying and benefiting from rich and diverse player offers on every school day! “



Rachel Murray
OPAL South West

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Rachel delivers the OPAL Programme around Bristol, Bath and Gloucestershire

Rachel Murray is a trainee OPAL mentor in Gloucestershire. Rachel is also the Play Coordinator at Blue Coat Primary school in Wotton under Edge. Over the last five years, she has worked within the school, supporting play at both a strategic and operational level, earning the UK’s first 100% OPAL Platinum level audit in July 2019 and two national Playwork Awards. Rachel was the national winner of the Inspiring Educator Award at the annual Learning Outside the Classroom Awards 2016.
Previously to her work with OPAL and Blue Coat, Rachel was Director of Learning at the At-Bristol science centre (now called We the Curious).


Ana Ardelean
OPAL North

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Ana delivers the OPAL Programme in and around Leeds, Yorkshire and Manchester.

Ana is a previous playworker, children’s service manager and trainer, current lecturer in Childhood Development and Playwork and play consultant.

Ana’s background is in playwork and front line work with children. She has 15 years of experience working in many different play settings in various countries; nurseries, schools, after school and holiday clubs, playschemes and special needs support services, refugee camps and more. She then moved on to play service management and development, playwork training and consultancy. At the moment she is researching play in refugee children and supporting schools across Yorkshire to improve the state of children’s play. Ana also sits on the trustee board as a treasurer of the International Play Association (England branch).


Kate Smith
OPAL West-South-West

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Kate delivers the OPAL programme to schools in the far south-west in and around Devon, Dorset and Somerset.

Kate has a masters degree in playwork from The University of Gloucestershire. She works as a playworker in an adventure playground and has experience of working in primary schools. In her adventure playground work, Kate has seen how effectively children can manage their own play and their own risk.


OPAL International

Linda Naccarato

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Linda is happy to work with schools in the Toronto area delivering the Canadian version of the OPAL programme.

Linda Naccarato is from Toronto. She became Canada’s second certified OPAL mentor in 2017. With a background in art and environmental education, Linda brings a passion for creative learning and community engagement to her work with the OPAL program.