Rathcoole Primary School was recently awarded the PlayBoard TOPS (Taking Outdoor Play Seriously) Quality Assurance Award for outdoor play in schools.
The award, developed and overseen by PlayBoard - the lead organisation for play in Northern Ireland - recognises the significant work and commitment shown by schools to transform their outdoor space and playgrounds into innovative and creative play spaces; play spaces that are not only more fun to play in, but spaces that support and enhance children’s learning, growth and development through play.
Over the past academic year the TOPS programme has been working to support staff, pupils and parents from each of the schools to introduce new and more varied types of play.
This has led to the introduction of a whole range of new play activities during lunch and break times including messy play and mud kitchens, dressing-up, loose parts play, junk play, arts and crafts and much more!
Speaking at the award event which took place at Stranmillis University College,
Explaining the background to the award, Alan Herron PlayBoard Director of Service Delivery and Development said: “The TOPS award developed out of PlayBoard’s experience of delivering in schools which highlighted the need for an intensive programme to support schools to introduce new, innovative play activities and make better use of their outdoor space.”
Alan continued: “Play is one of the main ways children learn about the world around them. Play is natural and instinctive, it allows children to test their abilities and to learn and develop new skills and knowledge.
“As such play has a critical role in schools – offering an outlet for expending energy during break times, contributing to learning through the curriculum and improving health and wellbeing.”