Gillas Lane Primary Academy and Nursery, Seaton Avenue, Houghton Le Spring, Sunderland, DH5 8EH

0191 500 5956

Gillas Lane Primary Academy and Nursery

Proud to be part of Aim High Academy Trust

We are proud to be an OPAL GOLD school!


 Did you know that playtime accounts for 20% of a child's time at school? At Gillas Lane we are determined to get that 20% right. That is why we have invested in OPAL. This is a programme that supports school improvement through play.

Changes in culture and society have led to ‘play poverty’ in childhood which has numerous negative impacts.

Better play means happier children. Happier children mean less behaviour problems, a more positive attitude to school, more effective lessons, core skills development, less staff time spent resolving unnecessary problems, less accidents and happier staff and children!


OPAL at Gillas Lane

We have developed the OPAL approach and worked with our school community to improve our play provision. Our school grounds are impressive with two traditional play yards and a large field with some great hills. Traditionally some of these spaces have been underused however through our OPAL project our school site has been transformed to offer the highest quality play experiences whatever the weather.


Fundamental to our approach is that children have the opportunity to play wherever they want, with whoever they want. Children have the freedom to explore and play in their own imaginative ways, experimenting, problem solving and having fun using a wide range of available resources which are very different in each area.


Our outdoor areas are continually being developed and offer an even wider range of play opportunities. The children love playing in all the different areas including rolling in tyres, creating dens, new recipes in the mud kitchen, digging in the sand, creating games with small world toys or zipping round the yard on the scooters. They are having fun and are developing life skills of team work, problem solving, communication, resilience whilst also developing their creativity and imagination.

Our OPAL play project is a great success and the children love being outside. Our project goes from strength to strength but there is always more to do so with the support of our OPAL Play Team and fantastic families, the world of play will continue to be transformed to capture and inspire our children’s imaginations.


As an OPAL Gold school, our headteacher has spoken to a range of audiences about the difference OPAL can make - from online international conferences to the Sunderland Schools PE Conference we have spread the word far and wide.

If any other schools are thinking of beginning their OPAL journey, our advice is DO IT! It’s been a transformative and straightforward route to change the play experience for our Gillas Lane children - we are always keen to welcome visitors to see our OPAL in action so get in touch and book a slot!

If you would like to read more, please visit the OPAL website.

OPAL Bingo

Eyes down for a full house! Each class has their own OPAL Bingo card and they can earn points for bringing in OPAL items - and do we all know what points make? Prizes!