We had the pleasure of speaking with Tom Fay, Director of School Improvement at Pontefract Academies Trust, about the journey the Trust is on with Lyfta. We discussed how they have implemented the platform and the impact they have seen so far.
Student using Lyfta
About Pontefract Academies Trust
The Trust is a multi-academy trust in the historic northern town of Pontefract, which seeks to run top-quality, high-achieving schools that give children and young people the chance in life they deserve, and where every child and young person makes outstanding progress. They support nearly 4,000 children and young people in a family of eight highly collaborative and ambitious schools.
The Trust operates in an area with a high level of social and economic deprivation, with a mix of students from very deprived and more affluent backgrounds. With this context in mind, they are striving to create a curriculum that truly engages and stimulates all students, regardless of their social and economic background and are using Lyfta to help broaden horizons and open up new worlds for all learners.
Using digital technology to widen students' experience of the world
Shahnaz in storyworld Summer Village, Winter VIllage
Tom understands the importance and value of exposing students to curated digital content that increases their understanding of the world and broadens their experience of people, places and perspectives. He understands the impact that this access can have on student engagement, progress and their understanding of life in an ever-evolving society. Lyfta has proven to be equally effective at the top and bottom of the social and economic spectrum, where parental wealth/income does not necessarily correlate with broad, global or intercultural experiences.
"We are a very forward-thinking Trust. I know that in a world where technology permeates every single aspect of our lives and experiences, it is vital that the students are exposed to digital content that widens their own personal horizons."
Lyfta has enabled students to learn about a huge range of topics and themes and develop vital skills and values they need to thrive in our modern world. They will see a world of people, places and perspectives beyond their often limited experience given their age.
Lyfta has helped bridge the gap between students' norms, perspectives and understandings of the myriad of ways of living, being and thriving in an increasingly complex, uncertain and interconnected world.
"Getting our kids ready for the unpredictable world that they are going to step out into is paramount for us. We're finding Lyfta is helping us bridge the gaps between their norm and what life is actually like out there beyond their homes."
Pleasurable planning, impactful lessons and encouraging oracy
Tom reported that Lyfta's immersive platform has made planning more pleasurable for staff and has become one of the students' favourite parts of the week. They observed that students retain information better due to the immersive, interactive nature of the content. They have also discovered how the supporting educational resources support oracy and encourage students to talk fluently about different aspects of the personal development curriculum, including different cultures, diversity and understanding others.
"So, the feedback we're getting from the staff is simply planning is now pleasurable… Lyfta Time is one of their favourite parts of the week. When it comes to retention of information and just being able to talk fluently about aspects of the personal development curriculum, different cultures, diversity and understanding others, they tend to retain that information better because of the way that Lyfta immerses them into the content."
Links across the curriculum
Tom reported that he found Lyfta to be a platform that would bring all subjects, including science, geography, history, and PSHE, to life. In doing so, it has also indirectly supported efforts for cross-subject collaboration and linking key content matters. Pontefract's curriculum now has Lyfta links running throughout it, and the platform has become an integral part of the school's long-term and mid-term plans.
"I went through the content for science, geography, history and PSHE as a ‘starter for ten' and could find Lyfta links for every single lesson if needed."
Pontefract Academies Trust have seen the impact of Lyfta on students and staff and continue to explore the platform's possibilities. Students and staff have been visiting new places, exploring new curriculum links and even creating Lyfta passports where students collect stamps to record their journey as they visit different countries and experience new perspectives through the storyworlds.
"I see Lyfta as a real global citizenship adventure for the kids."