Warden Park Primary Academy Case Study

Name: Emma Phillips

Position in School: Assistant Head with responsibility for Early Years

Name of school: Warden Park Primary Academy

Still in programme or award level: In programme

What type of school are you?

We have over 400 pupils, age range nursery to year 6 (2 yrs – 11yrs)

What were the grounds like?

We have a mixture of hard tarmac surfaces (3 separate spaces) and field. We also have a forest school plus small green spaces that were fenced off and unused

What did the play offer look like before OPAL?

Children were separated onto the tarmac play area KS2 and KS1. They used these spaces at playtime (15 mins) and lunch time. Children would mix across year groups at times on these spaces. The field was used in dry weather. We tried several times to introduce playtime boxes with equipment that the children could use. These would include some skipping ropes, balls, not much else and def not one item per child.

We did not have a rigorous training program. Teaching Assistants covered playtimes with 3 additional MMS ladies helping at lunchtimes.

What behavioural issues were there?

There were behaviour issues after every break and lunchtime, this would often take up lesson time as issues needed to be resolved. There was a lot of first aid which often took up an adult meaning less adults to monitor/observe the children.

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

All children are using and accessing all the resources. We have less behaviour issues (if any) Children are more involved at playtimes now – using imaginations, interacting with each other, behaviour issues have significantly reduced. Children are returning to the classroom ready to learn.

At the moment we are not mixing across age ranges due to Covid restrictions. Children are using the resources in a set place and rotate around the different areas of the environment.

What difference has OPAL made to the quality of play?

Children are playing now! They are using their imagination, returning to continue play/building in following days – remembering what they did and developing it.

What difference has OPAL made to senior leadership?

SLT are having to use lunch less time (if any) dealing with behaviour issues. There is a general feeling of children coming back into class calmer and happier.

What difference has OPAL made to your lunchtime staff?

They are having more time to interact with the children in a positive manner and less time sorting first aid of behaviour. There is still some questions around what children are able to do…this is something we are building into the next stage of our OPAL journey.


What other impacts has OPAL made?

We did class assemblies outside with the equipment to the children and all staff in that class. This meant everyone was hearing the same message, particularly around what was acceptable and not. Including the children in discussions about what they would like more of/what’s working well has meant they are part of the process rather it being something that is done to them. Plus they have great ideas!


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

Do it!

Visit other schools but it is important to make it work for your school, you know what your children need and what fits with your philosophy.

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