Schools at their creative best: Opening School Facilities funding in action

Schools at their creative best: Opening School Facilities funding in action

Posted: Thu, 18 Jan 2024 12:48

Schools at their creative best: Opening School Facilities funding in action

Opening School Facilities (OSF) is entering its third year of funding, and it's been amazing to see firsthand the impact that this funding is having on schools and their surrounding communities. Over 30 schools across Oxfordshire now receive funding, and more than 50 projects are in motion. This means that more than 3,000 children and 500 community residents are now engaging with new opportunities to be active.

The OSF programme is a 3-year investment of £500,000, which is distributed across the county, led by North Oxfordshire School Sports Partnership together with schools, district councils, Active Oxfordshire, the Active Partnerships national team and many other partners. Thinking differently and real innovation is encouraged, and schools have used drums, mud kitchens, transformed outdoor play and forest school to challenge how we think about traditional ways to be active – with incredible results.


Embedding physical activity into school culture and community life has had a significant impact on schools and residents:

  • Projects have created more accessible opportunities to be active, for both school students and residents, where there may otherwise be barriers in place.

  • Learning environments are more inclusive, and provisions have been increased for children with Special Educational Needs or those who are disengaged with PE.

  • Teachers have noted improvements in attainment and behaviour in class as a result of allowing more time for play and to be active.

We've been lucky enough to visit schools across the county to see some of the projects and the transformative impact they are having on schools, their pupils, and local residents.

St. Mary's Primary School, Banbury – embracing the mud!

We visited St Mary's Primary School on a rainy day in December. Despite the weather, the school continue to encourage the children to play outside, making play and activity a priority. They also set time aside to change out of muddy clothing before getting started with learning. The school uses the OPAL Programme to make the most of their outdoor space and children are free to slide down muddy hills, set up mud kitchens and create their own play in a way that works for them.

With OSF funding, St. Mary's Primary School have obtained an impressive range of equipment for the children across the school to encourage more play and activity, including a mud kitchen, bikes and tricycles, a 'cosy corner', climbing equipment, and a sandpit.

Amazingly, teachers reported a decrease in behavioural issues and an increase in Year 6 exam results since they have adopted the OPAL programme.

"It was a really impressive setup and was clear that all teachers and staff had fully bought into the programme. The kids seemed to really embrace it too!" Joe Barnard, Active Oxfordshire

Bure Park Primary School, Bicester – energy, movement and fun through Drumba

We visited Bure Park School earlier in January 2024 to see a Drumba session, a fantastic activity merging movement and music which is also very inclusive,encouraging children to take part individually whilst being part of the group session. OSF funding has been used to start community Drumba sessions on weekday evenings, which are proving very popular – and funding has also been used to upskill staff so that Drumba sessions can be adapted for children with SEND.

The students enjoyed being able to do something different in school and loved the opportunity to be active and the feeling of being energised following the Drumba sessions.


The school have seen significant improvements in the level of engagement with Drumba compared to usual PE lessons, with those who were previously disengaged with PE loving the Drumba sessions. As the sessions have been so popular, Drumba has now been embedded into the school's curriculum.


Children at Bure Park Primary School comment on their Drumba activity sessions

OSF funding is transforming the way that schools and communities are getting active across Oxfordshire. To find out more about how we are working together to get more children active across the county, please follow here: Oxfordshire on the Move - Children and Young People.

Tags: Active Communities, Active Schools. Active Children, Children and Young People, Opening Schools Facilities, Physical Activity