School’s £10,000 outdoor fun plan is really just child’s play

It’s child’s play – combining learning with play has become a vital part of education in schools across the country.

Kirsty Walsh with some of the children enjoying playtime in their wellies
Kirsty Walsh with some of the children enjoying playtime in their wellies

Now one Shropshire junior school has launched a £10,000 appeal to help it build an outdoor classroom.

Whitchurch CofE Junior School has teamed up with the Opal Outdoor Play and learning company, which provides services to schools and organisations to improve the quality of play opportunities for all children.

It is urging the community and businesses to consider helping to make the dream of the outdoor classroom a reality, from helping with cash donations to offering building supplies and labour.

Outdoor play at Whitchurch Junior School

Kirsty Walsh, from the school, said Opal identified that the school was fortunate enough to have lots of green space but it was not used enough.

She said: “Our first change was that the children had access to the field all year round which meant wellie sheds were going to be a crucial investment. The children were bursting with excitement leading up to our first play workshop which involved a music speaker and tyres to play with. Then a local tyre company donated tractor tyres which we turned into sandpits – a great addition to encourage sensory play.”

The mud kitchen comes into its own at Whitchurch Junior School

“The children understand that we value play and their enjoyment at playtimes. The children are having more opportunities to develop their creativity, imagination, cooperation, resilience, stamina and confidence while. Opal’s inclusive approach aligns with our school values as we strive to make play better for all children whilst improving their physical and emotional health and well-being.

“Children and teachers are more excited to come to school as children are settling into class better due to teachers have to spend less time resolving playtime issues.”

Children enjoy the outdoor fun and learn new skills despite the weather

The school is also to host Stay and Play dates with parents in the summer term, whereby staff, parents and children embrace play together.

Headteacher Julie Rowlandson said: “Opal has instilled fun in our school. Parents and children are regularly expressing their appreciation of staff and their dedication to improving playtimes so much more since Opal arrived. Our staff have now received training and as a school we are now following the risk-benefit approach. It’s exciting to see the children develop so many skills in a safe environment. ”

The school says an outdoor classroom will spark the children’s curiously by facility more first time learning experiences, in a creative space.

“It will help us provide the children access to science experiments, Forest School and art activities.”

“The children have all year access to the outdoors, put their coats and wellies on and have a wonderful time. The outdoor classroom will also give them somewhere to sit down under shelter.”

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