“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing.”

Charles Schaefer

“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.”

Kay Redfield Jamison

OPAL curriculum leads – Mrs G Hunter and Mrs T Finnigan

Our Aims

At Toner Avenue Primary School we aim to address the provision of improved play opportunities in the following ways;

  • To ensure we  provide a varied, challenging and stimulating environment.
  • To allow children to take risks and use a common-sense approach to these risks and their benefits.
  • To provide opportunities for children to develop their relationships with each other.
  • To enable children to develop a respect for their surroundings and each other.
  • To aid children’s physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual development.
  • To provide a range of environments which will encourage children to explore and play imaginatively.
  • To provide a range of environments which will support children’s learning across the curriculum and learning about the world around them.
  • To promote independence and team work within children.
  • To build emotional and physical resilience

Wow!!!  Amazing news!!  On Friday 14th July 2023 Toner Avenue were accredited the platinum award for OPAL.  Only 0.5% of primary schools in the UK offer a play experience as good as we offer at Toner!!!

Did you know that children participate in up to 600 playtimes a year. That accounts for approximately 20% of the school day or 1.4 years of their primary education! 


We believe that children should access high quality play everyday. To do this, we made a commitment to improve the quality of children’s play experiences in our school. We began our journey in 2019 by signing up to the Opal programme (Outdoor Play and Learning). The Opal programme is founded on the principles and values of playwork, providing a wide variety of play opportunities from the sixteen types of play. Meaning children are still learning and having fun whilst outside. OPAL has a strong impact on children’s creativity, imagination, cooperation, resilience, stamina and overall confidence. We have spent the last few years embedding the playwork principles into our school and ensuring we provide opportunities for children to access the 16 types of play.




Opal Ambassadors

Each class has nominated 2 children to become an Opal Ambassador. Our ambassadors are very important people, they are always happy to play with others, model how to use equipment,  help make up games and model how to tidy up!

They can be easily spotted by their blue caps!


The Golden Welly Award

Our Play Team and Opal Ambassadors can award children with Golden Welly tickets during playtimes. Golden Welly Awards can be given out for lots of different reasons: excellent play and teamwork, looking after equipment, fantastic imagination… the list goes on!  Tickets are put into the Golden Welly and, during Friday’s celebration assembly, a name is pulled out!

The lucky person receives extra playtime for their whole class!


Making Opal Better Across Our School

There is always something new on our playground! To make sure we all know about it, we introduce new play equipment in whole school assemblies. Here we share ideas on how to use it, agree how to use it safely and think about where it will go in our yard.

Resourcing Opal equipment for over 400 children can be very difficult.  As a school, we run Opal events throughout the year.  On these days, children can come into school in non-uniform in exchange for Opal resources.  It’s always fun to come up with new ideas and ways to promote our Opal days, our School Council came up with an Opal Bingo to encourage each class to provide resources for different play areas – the class who ticked off the most areas, won a reward!

We understand that sometimes, outdoor play can be overwhelming for some children, but it was important to ensure that those children still had access to the fantastic learning opportunities that Opal provides.  Our Year 6 children applied to become Indoor Opal leaders and ensure play is accessible for all children.  These leaders have created an independent learning environment for many children who may not otherwise access outdoor play – and what a success it has been!  Our Year 6 leaders quickly took responsibility for this space and renamed it Ipal – Indoor Play and Learning.

Having seen how successful Opal has been throughout our school, it wasn’t long before an Opal after school club was requested and what a success it has been.  Who wouldn’t want to access all the play opportunities school has to offer, with all of your friends, after the school day has finished?!