Enhancing the academic curriculum and pupils’ personal development through immersive storytelling at Pontefract Academies Trust
In an era marked by technological advancements, the importance of intercultural and interpersonal skills cannot be overstated. As our world changes and becomes ever more interconnected and complex, the ability to connect with diverse perspectives and cultures becomes increasingly critical for both personal wellbeing and professional success. This is especially true considering the rapid developments in fields like AI, which emphasise the need for adaptable, global competences.
Yet there remains a scarcity of evidence-based, high-quality tools designed to empower educators in fostering socio-emotional intelligence and intercultural competencies, as outlined in the OECD PISA’s framing of ‘global competences’). Recognising this gap, Lyfta has emerged as a pioneering force, providing comprehensive and innovative real-world learning solutions that empower learners with the essential skills, values and knowledge to navigate our rapidly changing world.
Pontefract Academies Trust implementation of Lyfta
Pontefract Academies Trust embarked on a journey with Lyfta to create a curriculum that engages and stimulates students from all walks of life. Their commitment to ensuring that every child makes outstanding progress led them to Lyfta as a tool to broaden horizons and open up new worlds for all students.
The Trust operates within a diverse student body, including students from deprived and more affluent backgrounds but Lyfta has provided students across the spectrum with global and intercultural experiences that they might otherwise have not had access to.
As one educational leader from the Trust aptly puts it, “Getting our kids ready for the unpredictable world 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. Lyfta is one of the tools we are using to ‘future proof’ our students so they can cope with the demands of the future”
One of the most compelling aspects of Lyfta’s impact at the Trust is the tangible transformation in the teaching environment. Teachers report that planning has become more enjoyable, a critical factor in an era where teacher retention is a growing concern. Lyfta has become one of the students’ favourite parts of the week, underscoring its effectiveness in capturing and engaging young minds.
The emotionally engaging, interactive nature of Lyfta’s content has meant students retain knowledge more effectively and it facilitates discussions on personal development and cultural diversity:
“When it comes to retention of information and simply 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. Our students’ understanding of the world around them has significantly improved by regularly using Lyfta as part of our ambitious curriculum”
Tom Fay – Director of School Improvement
Trust leaders have actively collaborated with the team at Lyfta to incorporate links and weave the storyworld experiences into their curriculum. This approach ensures that staff have easy access to the resources they need to plan and enhance lessons.
Staff members’ feedback has played a pivotal role in enhancing the Lyfta rollout within the Trust. Survey results indicated that staff enjoyed using the Lyfta and appreciated the resulting class discussions, and that students were more engaged when Lyfta stories were linked to their current learning.
At Orchard Head Primary; a school in the Trust, PSHE co-ordinator Emily conducted learning walks and interviews to assess the impact of Lyfta on broadening students’ horizons and their cultural capital. Her analysis concluded that students demonstrated a stronger knowledge of global issues and their impact on the lives of others. Students were able to recollect the places they had virtually visited and the people they had met, emphasising the impact on their awareness and understanding.
The feedback from students and staff underscores the success of the collaboration:
● Lyfta provides a simple and effective way to expose students to other languages.
● Both staff and students using Lyfta found it engaging and enjoyable.
● The stories sparked detailed discussions in the classroom and helped students share their thoughts and opinions with others – it also gave some students a valuable real life human stories knowledge bank to better evidence opinions.
● Children were able to effectively link their use of Lyfta to learning in other parts of the taught curriculum.
● Lyfta has been effective for sharing key messages in assembly, linked to celebrations and dates of significance.
“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.”
Tom Fay, Director of School Improvement
“Lyfta is a great tool for engaging all learners and providing a contextual understanding of the world around them. The opportunity for pupils to see other places, hear different languages and immerse themselves within other cultures is critical for social mobility and developing a deeper understanding of the Protected Characteristics. At Pontefract Academies Trust, Lyfta has enhanced the delivery of our broad curriculum through its offer of high-quality resources (videos, articles and 360 images). The vast range of Storyworlds give an insight into lives of interesting people who otherwise the pupils may not encounter.”
Richard Beevers, Associate Assistant Headteacher – De Lacy Primary