A PLAY co-ordinator at a Wotton primary school has claimed a national award for her outstanding contribution to the lives of children and young people.

Rachel Murray, 40, who works at Blue Coat Primary School, was selected in the ‘Inspiring Educator’ category by the council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC).

She received the award at the Arden Hotel in Birmingham on Thursday, November 24.

Rachel said: “I’m over the moon, it’s such a lovely surprise, all the nominees were worthy winners.

“I’m especially pleased that play has been recognised as a powerful tool for learning.

“I hope other schools are inspired to think about the various play opportunities for children.”

When Rachel started at Blue Coat Primary, she was faced with a bare playground and an uninspiring play space, but her engagement with children, families and staff has transformed the bleak environment into an oasis.

She has established a skilled play team which has introduced a mud kitchen, helped to create a 50-tonne play beach and continues to make sure there is a focus on the value of play while assessing risks and concerns.

Elaine Skates, chief executive of LOtC, said: “We believe that every child should be given the opportunity to experience life and lessons beyond the classroom walls as a regular part of growing up.

"It is clear that Rachel is making great strides forward to make this happen, helping LOtC to grow and flourish.

"Congratulations to Rachel and Blue Coat Primary School who are expanding the horizons of young people and opening their eyes to the wonders of learning beyond the classroom through play, adventure and the natural world.”

Oggy East, of eeZeeTrip, who sponsorsing the LOtC Inspiring Educator Award, said: “The candidates’ passion and commitment is exemplary and showcasing their work through this award will spark ideas for others working in the sector.”

Almost 6,000 votes were received at this year’s ceremony, which also featured awards in best advocate, best innovator and a lifetime achievement award.