Central Avenue
Newton Aycliffe
Co. Durham

01325 300339

St Mary's Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School



We would like to tell you about an exciting new opportunity that our school has embarked upon to help us to improve the quality of play for all of our children. Working with an organisation called OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning), we are looking at how best we can provide a range of challenging and fun opportunities at playtime.

Play has changed hugely over the last 25 years and even more so in the past 18 months, as the world has become a much busier and more technologically developed place and then suffered the impact of Covid-19. Children sadly sometimes miss out on the physical, creative side of play which is so important to their development. OPAL has been designed to give children the sense of freedom that perhaps we all enjoyed as children but that society sometimes denies us, just consider the past two years!

We are committed to ensuring quality play opportunities are available to all of the children at St Mary’s, as we believe that play is essential for children’s physical, emotional, social and intellectual development.

Our vision for play at St Mary’s

We would like play in our school to become a freely chosen activity which your child will find satisfying and enjoyable. It will provide them with an opportunity to use their intuition, be physically active, be creative, make their own decisions, be outdoors and overall have fun.

So what will this actually look mean?

How we play during lunchtimes will change over the next 24 months. Children will be offered new challenges and allowed to play with a range of new equipment and resources. Children will be allowed access to different parts of the school such as the field if they have suitable footwear. Children will be allowed to play outdoors in most weathers, and you may find your child will be dirtier than when they arrived at school. The new ways to play will be introduced slowly and we will of course work closely with all children on developing their resilience and risk assessment skills.

We feel this is an exciting time at St Mary’s and hope you will support the changes and efforts to improve the quality of play for everyone.

We will keep you informed on a regular basis as we progress on our OPAL journey


Please check out the OPAL website by clicking the picture.



Play Policy 2021- 2022