Highnam C of E Primary Academy Case Study

Name of school: Highnam C of E Primary Academy

Still in programme or award level: In programme

What type of school are you?

We are a small rural village school, 4-11.  I form entry near to Gloucester city.

What were the grounds like?

We have a large playing space made up of roughly 30/70 hard surface to green space.  The children also have access to a MUGA pitch, trim train, slide, running track, woodland area, and spirituality garden.

What did the play offer look like before OPAL?

Children were not allowed on the grassy areas during wet weather and the forest area was off bounds at all playtimes. It was preserved for forest school lessons only. The children had a small selection of skipping ropes, balance boards and footballs that they could use on the playground as well as painted activities on the tarmac surface. Children used the trim trail, slide and monkey bars as social spaces. They used the MUGA for football. Staff were mainly used for first aid incidences. Staff had limited training.

What behavioural issues were there?

The lunchtime staff were often held up by first aid for the whole lunch times. At the end of lunch time children were required to line up and wait for their teacher to collect them from the playground.

How has OPAL improved the equality of your play offer across gender, age and ability?

The OPAL project has helped the school to continue its inclusive provision for all pupils.

What difference has OPAL made to the quality of play?

It is most encouraging to see that, since OPAL has been introduced, the opportunities for play at Highnam C of E academy have changed significantly. The children now have got access to a loose parts shed which opens out onto the playground. This has facilitated more creative and varied play at lunchtimes for all children. Children can be found using: the new beach, dressing up clothes, scooters, bikes and bubble cars, the forest school areas, tyres, chalk and dancing to music. The play team are often found engaging with the children and can equally often be found in dressing up clothes, building with tyres and enjoying a game of football!

What difference has OPAL made to senior leadership?

Being part of the working party of OPAL, it has been great to see a wide variety of staff engaged in this important project and to see the benefit to children. Staff have given up their time to support us in improving the grounds and the wider parent community has contributed very generously to our provision.

What difference has OPAL made to your lunchtime staff?

The lunchtime staff have adapted very well to the new lunchtime focus and have been very willing to embrace the new play team job description and can see the difference the project is making to the pupils at Highnam Academy.

What other impacts has OPAL made?

Our school motto is “Children with confidence” and this project has tangibly contributed to the pupils’ confidence in play.


What advice would you give to a school thinking of enrolling on the OPAL Primary Programme?

“As a school, we are big advocates of OPAL. So much so that all of the Primary QuEST schools in our trust have now signed up to be part of the project.”

Molly Carpenter Class Teacher/ OPAL Curriculum Lead


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