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Trotts Hill Primary School and Nursery


Welcome to our OPAL project!

We are delighted to share that we are about to launch an exciting new project to make our play times even better at Trotts Hill, in conjunction with OPAL. OPAL has won the “best active schools’ programme in Europe” award and been cited in two Parliamentary Reports as outstanding. OPAL is working closely with Sport England to promote more active childhoods. We will be working in partnership with OPAL for the next 18 months and they will support us to deliver the programme.


"Play is freely chosen, personally directed, intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child. Play can be fun or serious. Through play children explore social, material and imaginary worlds and their relationship with them, elaborating all the while a flexible range of responses to the challenges they encounter. By playing, children learn and develop as individuals, and as members of the community" (Play Council 2001).


                                      Trotts Hill Primary is an OPAL Platinum School!


We are thrilled to announce that after our final OPAL audit on 19th March 2024, we have been awarded PLATINUM for our play provision. This is the highest OPAL award and we scored 96% in the final audit. The Platinum Award puts our school in the top 1 percentile of UK primary schools in terms of the quality of our play offer. We are one of only a few schools locally to have achieved this award and are very proud of the whole play team and OPAL working party, who have worked tirelessly to improve playtimes for the children in our school.


Feedback from our final audit:


"Trotts Hill is a brilliant OPAL school with so many exciting spaces that offer endless play opportunities to children of all ages, genders, ethnicities, abilities and disabilities. The time, commitment and effort that has gone into improving playtime is incredible. The way that play has been embedded across the school will ensure that children benefit from their improved play opportunities for years to come. The Play Team are dedicated to supporting and facilitating children's play and developing the play spaces across the site. The children's enthusiasm for OPAL is so joyful to see, reflected in the presentation given by a group of year 6 children during the final audit meeting. Congratulations to all the team, the school staff, the children, and the wider community, - this is so well deserved’


Please see the article in the Stevenage Comet:


Stevenage school named among top 1 per cent in the country | The Comet



Autumn Term 2023

OPAL Autumn 2023

Still image for this video

OPAL Stay and Play October 2023

Thank you to all the families that joined us after school this afternoon.

We hope everyone enjoyed trying out some of the fantastic equipment and playing together as a community.

OPAL Progress Report – Autumn 1 2023


We had our Development 3 meeting in July with Bethan from OPAL who was extremely pleased with our progress so far. We identified actions and next steps as we continue to develop our play offer for our children. Development 4 is booked for 30th November giving us an opportunity to run through the final audit. Bethan from OPAL remarked we are the best school in her mentoring portfolio!


Our Play Team undertook playwork training in July to underpin knowledge to scaffold and extend children’s play. We learned about the 16 different play types and are working on ideas to encourage and improve play in all these areas.


We are very grateful to FROTH who have agreed to fund resources for us including: another shed delivered and installed on the 30 October, a Creative Crate which is an outdoor storage unit for craft resources, to keep them dry and enable us to offer collage materials, painting, junk modelling, chalk, crayons, pencils etc. Our ever growing collection of loose parts has outgrown our current shed and the new, larger wooden shed will add scope for an even greater range of resources to be provided. One of our parents has volunteered to help us to improve the storage within the existing shed and to create some upright pallets to use in the creative, water and mud kitchen areas.


Since the last update we have introduced den building, an increased range of large loose parts, an extensive range of dressing up, junk modelling, tree climbing, a performance area and water play. We are providing regular play assemblies to introduce resources which provides a dialogue between staff and children, using a collaborative approach to managing risk. Children are engaging in a deeper level of play than ever before and engaging in more risky play. Examples include:


· Rolling inside the large tyres down the hill. Children are managing their own risk and taking steps to mitigate, including adding cushions inside the tyre, wearing dressing up around their head for protection and working as a team to ensure the area and activity is safe.


· A fairground ride consisting of the canoe on a pile of pallets which two children hold on to and shake down a ramp they have made. Also a spectator area and queuing system which the children manage and maintain.

· Various tyre swings, bar swings and rope swings


· Using the large loose parts to create obstacle courses, a gym, more sophisticated dens, a flag and flag pole stand


· Walking on top of the cable reels


· Tree climbing


· Being increasingly inventive with their use of equipment, coming up with new ideas and thinking critically and planning to achieve their aims.


We are even occasionally seeing some of the die-hard football players choosing other activities!


Autumn Term 2022 - Off to a flying start!

Our OPAL project has got off to a fantastic start this term. Our children have enjoyed being able to use to whole field to play and they have especially loved having all of the classes mix together. Mrs Hunter has been working very hard to sort through all of the donations we have received and she has created an amazing mud kitchen, which children from all classes have been busy cooking and creating in. 

We are very much looking forward to the next phase in our project, which will include introducing small world, large construction and risky play.

An example of lunchtime at an OPAL Platinum School

This video was shot over one 45 minute playtime at St MIchael's Catholic Primary School in Surrey after 18 months of working with OPAL Outdoor Play and Learning using the OPAL Primary Programme.

To facilitate this project, we will be supported by FROTH to raise funds to buy resources and storage in the first instance. The OPAL project will transform playtime, benefit the whole school and have a positive impact on the community. 


When our new shed arrives we will be asking for donations from parents and the local community.  Loose parts are any materials that can be easily moved, combined, and incorporated into children's free play. The items we are looking for will enable us to enjoy a wider range of play experiences during playtime (see below for some examples):


Suitcases of any size and type

Anything on wheels/castors

Plastic milk crates

Briefcases, especially hard cased ones

Kitchen pots, pans, baking trays, worktables, wooden spoons, chopping boards

Tools like spades, trowels and brooms (no forks)

Tubes of various sizes and various materials

Buckets and watering cans

Fabric (large sheets/brightly coloured fabric e.g. old duvet covers)

Foam sheets / body boards

Cable drums


Noodles (the type you use in the swimming pool!)

Pegs (to help to set up dens)

We will use this webpage to keep you updated on our progress.