How can you use technology as an extension of your school’s core values? Find out with Halil Tamgumus.

Technology is great – we know this. It helps us to capture information quickly, analyse results at the click of a button and store documents in places that can be edited by multiple users at the same time. But for us here at Braunstone Community Primary School, one of the purposes of the use of technology is to develop and strengthen a sense of belonging. ‘Belong’ is a core value at our school (along with ‘Care,’ ‘Persevere’ and ‘Succeed’). We know that when people feel that they are valued, cared for, respected, and accepted for who they are, they are more likely to reach their full potential, and to want others around them to be the best that they can be, too.

We live in an age where technology gives children the opportunity to find out about different people from different parts of the world – without having to leave their classrooms. My school is situated in one of the most economically deprived wards in the whole of Leicestershire, so it is important that we are able to find different ways of broadening children’s horizons at little or no cost to the families. With technology, we can take our children around the world, back in time, and even under the sea and into space!

Just look around, watch the news. It is clear that the future world needs critical thinkers, caring hearts and empathetic minds.

By exposing our children to as much ‘different’ as possible, we are not only allowing our children from different backgrounds to feel seen, comfortable and reflected in our curriculum, but we also open windows into understanding other cultures and backgrounds, which leads to greater acceptance of others’ differences.

The Lyfta programme

We are very lucky here at Braunstone Community Primary School, as we have a vast array of different technologies to help us to enhance our curriculum, including individual devices for each child and a set of virtual reality headsets. However, there is one thing which I feel has had the biggest and swiftest impact on increasing our children’s cultural capital and understanding of the world. It is not a device or a piece of hardware, it is a programme, and that programme is called Lyfta.

In the past, we relied only on teacher knowledge and experience and/or research to be able to teach children about different cultures and people from around the world. Now, our children can explore the lives of real people from around the world through Lyfta. It is an immersive, interactive storytelling programme which uses high quality videos, photos and articles to open windows into cultures and themes without solely relying on what a teacher may or may not know.

Each class has a slot in their weekly timetable which is dedicated to ‘Lyfta time.’ This is an opportunity for children and staff to explore the story worlds. There is no writing during this time and children are not asked to record anything. What we want is for children to have quality discussions and debates about what they have seen or read. We have created a safe space for children to explore their curiosity about something that may be totally different to their experience, but at the same time, allowing a space for those children who have commonalities and connections with what they have seen to be able to share their own experiences.

Sharing of culture

We have been using Lyfta for almost two years and it has added a whole new dimension to our school. It has bred a confidence in those children who are from different cultural backgrounds and has increased understanding and compassion from those who are not.

One of my favourite moments as a head teacher so far was when one of our Year 5 children asked me if she could do a whole-school assembly. When I asked her what she wanted to do the assembly on, she said, “I want to do it all about me. I want to share my culture.” Of course, I agreed. Everybody knew she was going to do the assembly and, in the weeks leading up to it, all I heard from the other children was, “I can’t wait to hear about what she eats. I bet it’s really nice,” and “I can’t wait to see what kind of clothes she wears at home,” and “I hope she says different things in her language!”

The assembly was absolutely sensational by the way. I (and the whole school) learnt so much from her about Kurdistan, about her way of life and her culture in a way that we would never have been able to through books or online. She was empowered to do this because of our use of Lyfta.

She feels like she belongs because the curriculum is a mirror for her – it reflects her. Whilst, at the same time, it develops empathy from others – it opens windows to other worlds.

Does your curriculum use technology to develop a sense of belonging? Does it hold up mirrors? Does it open windows?

Author

  • Halil Tamgumus

    Halil is a motivated headteacher of a two-form inner city primary school in Leicester. Everything the school does is enveloped by its vision of ‘Belong, Care, Persevere, Succeed.’ It is a place where every school family member is treated with love and respect.
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