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Exhall Cedar's Infant School

Exhall Cedars Infant, Nursery & Preschool

Learning and Growing Together

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Exhall Cedar's Infant School

Exhall Cedars Infant Nursery & Preschool

Learning and Growing Together


OPAL - Outdoor Play and Learning

The Importance of Play


UN Rights of the Child: 

Article 31 (leisure, play and culture) Every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities.


Research has shown that children spend 20% of their time in school playing. This equates to 1.4 years of their school attendance. To ensure that this time and our fantastic school grounds are used to their full potential, our school has adopted an OPAL philosophy that allows the children freedom to explore play in their own imaginative ways, often using found and gathered resources in the natural outdoor environment as well as made-made items.  ​


We believe that play is essential for physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual development of each child. An OPAL approach promotes a more inclusive play environment in which all children can feel comfortable to express themselves. Most of our best childhood memories are from playing outdoors, climbing trees and exploring the wide world around us. OPAL gives us the opportunity to give those memories to your children.


April 2024; Feedback from our OPAL Coach, Rob Francksen


I would like to convey how wonderful I found my recent visit to your school; to see the transformation that has taken place in the school's approach to the provision of quality play is awe-inspiring!

On my first visit, back in June 2023, children were queuing up to get off the playground 10 minutes before the end of playtimes, there needed to be more for them to do and the school used only a fraction of the available space. As a result, playtimes were noisy, crowded and boring for most children.

The school has implemented many of the cultural and practical changes recommended in the OPAL Primary Programme and the results are clear to see. Every child has an amazing playtime every day. It also means that play is taken seriously at the school and is given appropriate leadership, planning, evaluation and resources.

Playtimes at Exhall Cedars Infant are inclusive, and joyful and provide a wonderful variety of types of play.

The children spoke with great confidence about what they were learning when playing, how they used dynamic risk assessment to identify and mitigate against risk, and genuine love of their school experience(s).


January 2024; Feedback from our OPAL Coach, Rob Francksen


"I just wanted to say how heart warming Friday was.


The turnout was amazing and it appeared to go extremely well; let me know the feedback you get.


I am so impressed with the progress you have made in such a short time; it's no mean feat and the programme most certainly requires passionate, and motivated people...Exhall most certainly has that in you and your team!"


Feedback from our OPAL Coordinator following a CPD Visit : Sept 2023


"Dear Exhall Cedars Infant,


I would just like to share how inspiring I found my recent visit to your school; it is positively noticeable that you have developed a warm, stimulating, and welcoming environment where all the children are evidently happy, cared for, and encouraged (by a fabulous staff team) to embark on a learning journey with resilience, passion, and confidence.


The children spoke with confidence and a love of their school experience(s).


I very much look forward to visiting again."





Through this approach to play, children are not only more active at playtimes, but they are also having the opportunity to further develop life skills such as cooperation, teamwork and problem solving. They are becoming motivated and enthusiastic builders, engineers, explorers and designers.

Feedback from parents at the OPAL Parent Playday in January 2024


I liked to see how my children play around the school, with sand and with their friends. Children develop their thinking, imagination and communication when they go out to play.


I loved coming along to join in the fun with my child. Such a good thing that you are doing for the children, there were lots of smiles and giggles all round. 


Sharing the experience of OPAL with my son was really fun. I am so excited for the OPAL program as I know that my son is enjoying it so much and he is learning at the same time. 

Feedback from a visiting Head Teacher Dec 2023


"I wanted to send a heartfelt thank you (albeit delayed) for letting me come over and see OPAL in action. 


Your children and staff were wonderful and were clearly thriving during playtime. They invited me into their play with such enthusiasm and wonderful manners. The impact of OPAL is clear to see. The children were engaged, active and loving their play. I saw some wonderful problem solving and interactions amongst the children of all ages. 


There were some absolute gems of kindness and resilience shown with the children from head-to-toe mud splats, to supporting a child with limited language to find wellies to be included in play. 


Your children were an absolute delight! I cannot wait to get started on our journey."


In Cedars' realm, where joy takes flight,

Beneath the sky, in pure delight,

OPAL's magic, vibrant and bright,

Guides playful hearts, ignites their light.


Amidst the trees, where branches sway,

Children laugh and dream each day,

On tree swings high, they soar and play,

In nature's arms, they find their way.


With slides and scooters, bikes in race,

Their laughter fills each open space,

In LEGO's world, they build with grace,

Imagination finds its place.


Through mud kitchen's messy art,

They craft with joy, their hands impart,

In sand pits vast, they mold and chart,

Their dreams in grains, a work of heart.


In forests deep, where shadows dwell,

They build their dens, their stories tell,

With tyre mountains, they climb and yell,

In every weather, they excel.


Oh, Cedars' children, free and bold,

In OPAL's embrace, their tales unfold,

With every adventure, new stories told,

In play and learning, they find gold.

Can you help? 


It's amazing that items which may be discarded can be turned into dens, swings, costumes, sculptures and much more. And we're also helping ot reduce, reuse and recycle!


If you have any of the following items, we'd love to have them in school:

  • Crates

  • Pallets

  • Planks

  • Guttering

  • Wooden sheet/ MDF boards

  • Blankets

  • Plastic Sheeting

  • Soft Toys

  • Tyres 

  • Plastic Seats

  • Buggies

  • Dressing up

  • Dolls

  • Small World

  • Role Play

  • Old Kitchen Equipment

  • Pots and Pans/ Utensils







Important Guidance


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