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Julie Cook, Crawfords Primary School

Nominated by Jenine Grist. Nominates Jenine Grist.

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Julie Cook, Head of OPAL
Crawfords Primary School
Haughley, Suffolk

Chosen as a Mud Champion because: outdoor & messy play advocate who listens to children.

Twitter CrawfordsPSchl

Nomination highlights

"Julie leads our lunchtime sessions. She has been with us at the school for a year and has transformed our playtimes. Her passion for children to have the 'right to play' goes above and beyond.

Julie listens and responds to the children's views, providing and setting-up different activities throughout the lunch sessions. Just recently she organised a whole school water play session, with water pistols & a slippery slide!

She advocates outdoor play what ever the weather, and particularly loves to see the children muddy, much to some of the teachers horror!

A few months ago a bath tub arrived in the playground, you can imagine the excitement of the children when it was filled with water and they were allowed to get in! There are no limits to play (obviously within the RBA) for Mrs Cook, she is already our mud champion:)"

Tell us a bit about your role

I am head of OPAL play at my lovely school Crawfords. OPAL stands for outdoor learning and play, this is a huge passion for me as I feel children need to engage with the outdoors. It helps them learn through play even messy muddy play.

My job is to make sure that every child has the best play experience ever. This can sometimes be very challenging, which I do love. I believe kids should have the opportunity to get dirty and really become a part of what they are doing within play or learning.

What do you love about your work?

So many things! Watching the kids play together - all ages. Messy play is a big thing for me as I love seeing the kids have an opportunity to really let themselves go and get dirty, messy and happy.

My favourite is definitely when our mud pit is very soggy and we have a giant puddle form - once the puddle-suits and wellies are on the kids enter a world of mud play and their facial expressions are just amazing.

I have the opportunity of seeing so many children come out of their shells and gain so much confidence through messy play. I am so grateful for the opportunity to give these children this time.

Top tip for muddy/messy/nature play

The more mess the better!

One massive point I need to express is don't be worried about the mess - it can always be cleared up - relax and watch the kids enjoy this time.

Resource recommendation

The right clothing and wellies always provided, and always make sure the children have spare clothes which is one of our school rules.

Pay it Forward – who would you nominate as a Mud Champion and why?

I would like to nominate Miss Grist, our Forest School lead within our school. She is all about the outdoor learning experience.. She is the kindest soul and so nurturing with the children, she can teach them so much through her Forest School outdoor learning.

She also doesn't mind the mess. Her potions are the best!

How will you spend your Muddy Faces voucher?

On anything that will enhance messy/mud play.

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