King’s Park Primary School in Newtownabbey has achieved a quality award that recognises their outstanding outdoor play offer. The prestigious TOPS (Taking Outdoor Play Seriously) award conferred by PlayBoard NI, the lead organisation for play in Northern Ireland, is in recognition of the school’s commitment to making their pupils’ outdoor play experience the best that it can be.

TOPS is a training programme and quality award that supports schools to develop and transform their external environment to encourage and deliver more outdoor play.

Working in partnership with PlayBoard’s TOPS project lead Shauneen McCusker, the school was rewarded for their leadership, vision, and commitment to play, as well as the significant work undertaken. The year-long mentoring and support programme has resulted in transformed outdoor spaces and enhanced pupil experience. The school has improved opportunities for play-based curricular learning and broadened opportunities for physical and social play.

Jacqueline O’Loughlin, Chief Executive, PlayBoard NI said, “Play is one of the primary mechanisms children and young people use to learn about the world around them. Both natural and instinctive, play enables children to test their own abilities and learn and develop new skills and knowledge.

“Play has a critical role in schools, offering both an outlet for expending energy during break times and as a means of contributing to learning through the curriculum. The importance of the school estate for play cannot be underestimated. For many children and young people the school playground may be the only open, accessible and regular play space available in their local community.”

Justin Conville, Principal, King’s Park commented, “We are delighted to receive this prestigious award, recognising all the hard work that the school community has put in to enhancing our play opportunities at King’s Park. We know that children learn best when they are happy and engaged and play is a great tool to ensure this. We are committed to enhancing our provision and ensuring that each child reaches their fullest potential.

“We would like to thank PlayBoard NI for their help and expertise, our school staff and parents for their support and hardwork and our wonderful children for their ideas, energy and enthusiasm. This award celebrates the achievements of the whole King’s Park family.”

Read more on the TOPS Programme.