Staffordshire University Academies Trust: Expanding pupils’ experiences and saving teachers’ time

Senior leadership from John Wheeldon Primary Academy and Moorgate Primary Academy, which are both part of the Staffordshire University Academies Trust, explain why they chose to subscribe to now>press>play and how it impacts their pupils.

Both schools initially signed up to enrich the learning experiences of their pupils who have pupil premium but now have embedded now>press>play as a key curriculum resource that enthuses all learners and saves teachers’ time.

Gemma Larmour, Year 5 Teacher at Moorgate Academy, explains in the short video below, how now>press>play has enriched her pupils’ experiences, supported teaching curriculum topics, and improved wellbeing.

Jess Robertson, Assistant Principal, John Wheeldon Primary Academy on her school’s experience of now>press>play:

Following lockdown, we felt there was going to be even more of a need to provide children with exciting, enriching experiences in order to motivate them as well as engaging and enthusing them. High-quality learning had been very sporadic at home and many children had lost their ‘love of learning’ as well as stamina and ability to remember key information. We particularly felt that our pupil premium children would be missing out on the fact that school trips were cancelled and we were somewhat limited with the experiences we could provide in school. now>press>play gives an opportunity for all children to experience an immersive story. I had personally researched about the fact that children often remember more when they learn through stories, now>press>play enables a topic to be taught not only through listening to a story but actually being a part of it.

We have found that children of all abilities are able to access the Experiences. The barriers of reading and writing are taken away and children can focus purely on the content of the story to develop their understanding. We have also made use of the PSHE stories which encourage social and emotional development and deal with sensitive issues in an interactive and engaging way.

Children find themselves ‘immersed’ within the story they are listening to. Their specific topic knowledge is hugely enhanced by them actually feeling like they are experiencing what the character would go through, the challenges they would face and the experiences that they would encounter.

As a school, we aim to have wellbeing as a priority. We have found that now>press>play has enabled this focus to be explored within topic areas which is something we often found challenging. It has enabled both staff and pupils to consider the emotional impact of specific time periods for example which has really helped with their understanding of how to compare this time period with their own life.

It has been used most successfully to engage ALL children in their topic lessons and encouraged children to remember key knowledge successfully.

Vicki Eaglefield, Deputy Headteacher, Moorgate Primary Academy on her school’s Experience of now>press>play:

Initially, we purchased now>press>play as part of our pupil premium funding to give pupils experiences they may not get outside of school. now>press>play is now an embedded part of our enrichment offering for all 280 pupils within the school.

now>press>play allows pupils to fully immerse themselves in Experiences as if they were really there. It absolutely is offering a broad package to support pupils’ personal development, and extend their life experiences with opportunities that they may not otherwise have.

For example, when learning about and writing postcards within English for a ‘Seaside’ trip pupils struggle to write about what they do not know. By using the now>press>play Seaside Experience pupils have a grounding in which to draw upon without having had a visit to the seaside. With ever-decreasing budgets and social distancing measures in place, large trips to places such as seaside visits are not possible but now>press>play offers an alternative to still enrich pupils’ experiences.

now>press>play works wonderfully as a jumping-off point and really gets pupils interested in a new topic or subject such as dinosaurs or the United Kingdom. The follow-on materials are well considered and support teachers’ workload. It is so simple to use that it does not take up a considerable amount of time to prepare – as a busy teacher this is a great big plus!! The easier it is to use and deliver the more likely it will be used ample times.

Presently, we haven’t measured now>press>play’s impact in a particular area but teachers often comment on how engaged pupils are and how well it supports the teaching of new material such as Neil Armstrong for Key Stage 1 rather than reading a book or report. Children absolutely love seeing the box arrive in their classroom and will ask “Are we using now>press>play?”

Having had the most recent training from the now>press>play team, as a school I can see us using it more than just the Experience sessions within the app but to enhance it further with our own music, etc to support pupils.