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Our OPAL Adventure

February 2023

Wow! What a busy half term holiday we have had. A huge thank you to Mr Hutchins (UK Property Support Services)  for all the planning, Mr Crawley, Mr Goff and Claude Vincent who worked incredibly hard, to Mr McCafferty (Travis Perkins) who sourced the materials, to M M O’Connor for lending us the groundwork equipment,  to all of you (for paying for tickets to the disco - you bought the sand!) and our wonderful PTA - The children of Divine Saviour have a wonderful addition to their playtime provision! 

Our new sandpit!


 Half term is here! Something very exiting is about to happen at DSS. Come back soon (and follow us on Twitter) to see the new addition to our outdoor play provision! 


What a fantastic end to children's Mental Health Week - the children finally got to test out the new scooters and bikes. Reception didn't come to Play Assembly so Mrs Wilson brought Play Assembly to them! 


Mr Sadowski has been working very hard this week to get the wheely shed ready for action!


A spontaneous whole school conga line at lunchtime - it's the OPAL effect!

Click here to view  - You don't want to miss this! 


A special delivery - in school colours! 

January 2023

2023 has gotten off to a great start! We have had several local schools come to visit to see what OPAL is all about and to see Divine Saviour's provision. 

Miss McKinstry had a very productive meeting with some lovely parents who are supporting us in creating our new sandpit - keep your eyes peeled for updates soon!


A very exciting new delivery arrived at the end of the month:



December 2022

Fun in the snow!!!


October 2022

Meet our new OPAL Pupil Play Team members. Our Pupil Play Team will work alongside our Lunchtime Play Team to provide outstanding play opportunities for all! They have lots of great ideas and are ready and raring to go! 

September 2022

Keep your eyes peeled…Mr Sadowski is working on a new project - can you guess what he is making?

On Monday September 26th lots of our teachers and TAs attended outdoor learning training led by Cindy from Learning through Landscapes. Here is a picture of them learning how to measure a tree using a stick! The teachers cannot wait to try out some of the activities they were shown using our OPAL loose parts!

Calling all Year Five pupils...


Stay and Play Fridays are back! 

As part of our OPAL play project offer, we will be holding stay and play sessions after school on Fridays this half term. These sessions will run from 3:15 pm until 4:15 pm.

  These sessions are open to everyone in the DSS community. Come and find out exactly what our OPAL playtimes are about and have fun with your child/ren. We actively encourage you to get involved in the play; make dens, dress up, create your own games, make up imaginative stories, play with water, enjoy the mud kitchen and so much more!

 Please note that DSS staff will not be supervising these events. Children can only stay if they are accompanied and supervised by a parent/carer.

  We hope to see you all at one of these events.



July 2022

What a year it has been!  We have danced, dug, investigated, rolled, swung, climbed, built, created, sung ... to name just a few!   I wonder what next year will bring?

 I think this video perfectly sums up how we feel about OPAL:



Our final Stay and Play session of the year was a huge success - thank you to all who attended. A massive thank you must also go to the PTA for selling ice lollies and water pistols to help keep us cool!  Stay and Play Fridays will be back in September 2022! 

June 2022

 We are enjoying our new loose part materials!



May 2022

We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded a Local School Nature Grant, thanks to players of the People's Postcode Lottery. Our pupils will be benefiting from £500 worth of loose parts materials which will be used to further enhance our play provision. In addition to this, our  staff will receive training to help children learn outdoors. The project is run by Learning through Landscapes and funded by People's Postcode Lottery, Postcode Neighbourhood Trust, Postcode Places Trust, Postcode Society Trust, Postcode Local Trust or Postcode Community Trust all of who which receives funding from players of People's Postcode Lottery." We look forward to updating you on this exciting development once our resources arrive!

April 2022

22/4/22 Congratulations to Year Three who have become our first recipients of the Golden Welly Award which is awarded to class who demonstrate the best play behaviours throughout the week! 

22/4/22 Our celebration Assembly turned into a play assembly which turned into a whole school parachute game! 

21/4/22 Miss McKinstry and Mrs Wilson visited Warner Brothers Studios to pick up a material donation. 

1/4/22 Our wonderful (and very dedicated) Play Team started to fill up the new 'Loose Parts Shed' this afternoon - even the snow couldn't stop them! We can't wait to open up the shed doors after the Easter Holidays! 

March 2022

28/3/22  Our new loose parts shed has arrived! Have a look on twitter to see how the build is progressing! 

22/3/22 It’s a busy evening at DSS! Mr S is working on our stage, the loose parts donation drop off station is ready for Monday and the sandpit area is being cleared by some of our wonderful parents. 

17/3/22 A huge thank you to our PTA for raising the funds needed to replace our welly shed. Thank you to all the families who supported the PTA by purchasing a cookie, donut or packet of Taytos at their stall this evening. 

It's Book day at DSS, all the staff are in costume and the Play Team are working with our OPAL Mentor Neil to learn about Risk Benefit Assessments. Surprisingly, this was the first time he had delivered this training to the Big Bad Wolf, Mr Twit, The Queen of Hearts and all of their friends! Thank you Neil for a wonderful session! 

In our Play Assembly we learnt the difference between a tool and a toy!

February 2022

Oh dear, our welly shed has been damaged during Storm Eunice! The wellies will be out of action whilst they dry out!

In an exciting development, we have just had a £500  Herts County Council grant proposal accepted. This will be used to purchase a bluetooth speaker,  digging tools, den building resources and some wheeled toys. A huge thank you goes out  to our local councillor Sara Bedford for her support!

Mrs Wilson and McKinstry have started working on our new stage area - shower curtains make great backdrops!

In today's Play Assembly we introduced our mud kitchen! Mrs Wilson shared the new resources with the children and established rules for using equipment in the mud kitchen in a way to support happy and safe playtimes. 

January 2022

The new loose parts shed has a delivery date!!! Keep your eyes peeled in Spring Term 2 for our new addition! 

This week's play assembly was all about assessing the risk! . We looked at a number of pieces of play equipment we currently use on the playground - how we use them, what are the rules and what makes them risky and what are the benefits of using them! We decided that the equipment itself is not dangerous - we make it dangerous by the way in which we sometimes use it. We discussed what we mean by reducing the risk:

  • using equipment in a safe space
  • using equipment in a safe manner
  • reporting equipment that is broken or faulty


21.1.22 - Our welly donations box is ready to go in the bike shed!


In our play assembly today we all agreed that everyone has a right to a safe and happy playtime.  We discussed what each individual responsibility is in keeping others safe.  Our Playtime Charter was produced and a copy  given to each class to display in the classroom.

Sophie and Megan acted as scribes during our first Play Assembly when we introduced the idea of OPAL. The children have lots of ideas about things that they think would make playtime fun.

November 2021

The OPAL team met for their first development meeting. We discussed some quick 'playtime' wins. Mrs Wilson and Miss McKinstry were happy to share the news that the school have purchased some fantastic loose part storage which will be delivered in the Spring Term! Plans for a large sandpit area were also discussed! 


Parent Voice

The Divine Saviour Parent's were given a chance to reflect on their own view of play  here are some of the results:

95.5% of those who responded said that playtime is very important.

72.7% of those who responded said that their children think their playtimes are good. 

29.5% of those who responded said that their children would like more things to do at playtime. 

97.7% of those who responded said that they befitted from play experiences as a child:

" I became more active in life and it is healthy."   

"It helped with socialising, gave me energy and a focus on what I wanted to do when I was older (still doing it!)." 

"I believe it has helped me to be imaginative and creative, take risks and to be curious about the world."

"It gave me confidence to try things and keep going until I mastered it. I was taught that some things are not easy but with patience and practice it’s possible."

65.9% of those who responded said that their children do not have the same play opportunities to play outdoors as they did.  


Here are a few suggestions from our parents on how to improve playtimes:

"More unstructured play which would encourage my son to be creative, confident and be able to effectively communicate with his peers. "

" It would be good to have a range of activities to enable some different types of play, and maybe to encourage children to engage in different types of play to what they would usually do, as I think they often are drawn to the same type of activities every playtime!"

"The offering of different equipment that can be explored freely and with adult input. Time to explore on bikes/scooters. Jumping equipment."

"As many opportunities to be outside as possible, learning life skills outside"


October 2021

The teachers, TA's and MSAs were invited to a training session led by our OPAL mentor Neil. It was a very inspirational evening! 

Miss McKinstry (with help from Reception Class) has started to develop a mud kitchen/ digging area on the field.  Thank you to the PTA for providing three lovely mud kitchens - these have now been secured to the side of the PE shed! 


September 2021

The Opal team met with Neil Coleman to go through the OPAL audit for the first time. Our Baseline score was 49% (Most schools score between 30% and 40% at baseline.) Neil said that our site had lots of potential and that there was a strong offering already in place. We just need a little more variety, all year round!