We are so proud to announce that Whitefield Primary has become one of our Flagship Schools! To celebrate, their innovative staff have shared their now>press>play story and how it’s helped them with recovery and catch up in a post-lockdown learning environment.
Why did your school decide to use now>press>play initially and has that reason changed since you started using it?
At Whitefield we are an Edtech50 school and look outwards via social media and our school links to see what other schools like us are doing. We decided to demo now>press>play to see what it did for our pupil engagement. At the demo the children accessed the Roman’s Experience and we were stunned to see the levels of concentration and engagement from a very diverse class. This transferred into the children’s later engagement and understanding of the subject, and this along with their feedback, led us to become a now>press>play school.
That was just before Covid. Since returning to school our aims remain the same, however, we have used the equipment outdoors much more than expected, and staff and children have loved that.
What areas/priorities has now>press>play helped with?
Children have found it difficult to return to structure and listening, and to access things they have forgotten. now>press>play has helped children to engage in an active way which has really helped them return to learning.
Have you seen an impact on any specific areas or on specific children that has been unexpected?
This year we have started to learn Spanish having previously learnt French. Both staff and children have felt a bit self-conscious about the new language – now>press>play has really helped them to tune into the new language, with the headphones on they have been happier to speak without being worried about other’s listening.
As storytellers, we want to inspire an interest in literacy with now>press>play, have you noticed any change in your children’s engagement? What has that change been?
We run a curriculum based on strong texts, and the children love being immersed in storytelling. The children have really loved the immersive nature of now>press>play, however, they have talked about using their imaginations more to create the worlds the words conjure up.
Do you use the PSHE & Philosophical Discussion questions in the guides? If so, how?
This is a next step for us. We have moved to a new PHSE scheme this year and will make more of the synergy next year.
The immersive Experiences are designed to help children emotionally connect, have you noticed an increase in discussion around feelings or an increase in emotional understanding, empathy or wellbeing?
The Experiences I have done with the children have allowed them to develop empathy and understanding based on the roles they take on. For example, in the Anglo Saxon Experience, they further understood the role of working children, how difficult this was and how most didn’t receive any formal education. The Experience really allowed them to develop that emotional understanding of what it was like.
Further to this, now>press>play has been used to great effect when delivering the history curriculum. Making use of the forest area on the school grounds and combining it with the now>press>play equipment enabled The Stone Age Experience to become immersive and physically active. Children enjoyed roaming through the trees whilst hunting for a woolly mammoth and then trying to create a campfire.
One child quoted that ‘they felt like they were actually there and that their heart was pounding as they ran through the forest.’
In addition, combining outdoor space with the equipment has proved to be an invaluable tool when teaching concepts in Science. This was used to great effect when delivering ‘rocks and their properties’. Following the Experience through the headphones whilst hands on testing rocks and feeling the physical environment provided a great stimulus to embed learning and sticky knowledge.
Combining the immersive and imaginative Experiences of now>press>play with our rich curriculum and outdoor opportunities has proved to be a winning formula with the learning and progress made by the children.
What have the children and staff said about now>press>play and this style of learning?
The style of learning allows children to really immerse themselves into a topic and experience it, gaining that deepening of understanding. The children enjoy it immensely, moving around and taking on the different roles. Even children who are usually fairly quiet have the confidence to join in. The Experiences have been invaluable in developing children’s confidence as well as their understanding of a topic.
How do you or your colleagues construct a lesson, or lessons, around an Experience and when do they use them?
Staff have used the Experiences in different ways. The Anglo Saxon one, we did fairly near the beginning of the topic when the children hadn’t developed much knowledge, but doing the Experience then enabled them to ask questions about the things we were later going to cover. Eg who are Vikings? What are runes? Why was the child ploughing the field? This helped to develop their interest and curiosity.
The Ancient Egypt Experience, we did nearer the end of the topic which reinforced all they had learned. They had previously learned about the Nile, scribes, mummification etc and so the Experience gave them a context to hang this learning on. Likewise, the Solids Liquids and Gases Experience helped to deepen their previously learned knowledge.