News, events and schools' information for families across Bath and West Wiltshire

St Michael’s Junior Church School in Twerton recently enjoyed a visit from Bath MP Wera Hobouse for her to congratulate them on being presented with a Platinum award by Outdoor Play and Learning organisation (OPAL).

OPAL is an award-winning, mentor-supported school improvement programme that supports schools in strategically and sustainably improving the quality of their play opportunities. 

A child’s right to play is protected as a human right and OPAL helps schools produce plans to ensure that every child has at least one hour’s outstanding outdoor play every school day. After all, research shows that children’s mental and physical health is deteriorating and that great play can help improve it – and during seven years at primary school, children spend 1.4 years at play.

Playtimes at St Michael’s focus on variety and imaginative exploration and include den-making, tree-climbing and even a mud kitchen! Their repurposed Playbus also provides a unique and special space for indoor play.

Michael Follett, OPAL Director offered his heartfelt congratulations to the school, saying, “Changing the culture of an organisation is not easy but you have done it, to become one of the best schools in the country for the quality of your playtime provision.”

Clare Greene, Headteacher at St Michael’s added, “A perfect way to end our week looking at children’s mental health awareness with a celebration of our Outdoor Play And Learning (OPAL) offer and to be able to share this with our local MP. We are so proud to be a Platinum school and are so thankful for the support of children, families, community businesses, staff and of course our colleagues at OPAL to enable this provision.”

At the end of the visit, the children surprised Wera with an enthusiastic rendition of Happy Birthday following the MP’s birthday the day before.

“Congratulations to everyone at St Michael’s on this award,” said Wera. “Good play makes for happier children, improved imagination and relationship skills, and makes them ready to learn when they return to the classroom. Your achievement in creating such enriching play opportunities is inspiring. And your musical birthday wishes were an absolute delight – thank you St Michael’s!”