now>press >play create and deliver immersive educational workshops aimed at bringing the curriculum to life, whether it’s literature, science or history.
The social enterprise provides educational resources that use stories and sound to engage children through kinaesthetic learning. Children put on wireless headphones and immersed in sound and music are plunged into a world where they become a character in a story; meeting people, discovering places, solving problems and most importantly learning while on an educational adventure.
Speaking with the Big Issue online journalists, Alice Lacey, the executive director, said: “It’s fun and it’s that that makes it work. They don’t realise they’re learning. Kinaesthetic teaching is especially good for those ‘naughty’ kids who are over-active at the back of the class.”
Having previously worked as a theatre director, at the National Theatre and Old Vic, Alice first came up with an idea for using the headphone technology for theatrical events, after attending a silent disco. It was only after speaking with Oscar Wood, a music teacher and now artistic director of now>press>play that the learning potential of the technology became clear. She added:
“The basic idea was very simple and we realised that it could be developed further. We started piloting it at schools and quickly saw how well it worked.”
After this early success Louis Brooke came on board and with him the social enterprise expertise necessary for the project to be a success. Speaking about those early days Alice said:
“I didn’t think this would become a business. I had no idea what a social enterprise even was. I’ve learnt that you have to be as creative in a business as in other fields. The biggest challenge was how to approach the schools, learning how to sell. [Schools] are inundated with businesses trying to sell them something and our biggest obstacle was how to stand out. We email, send flyers and even cold call them. But if you really believe in what you’re doing – you can make a difference.”
now>press>play works with schools and other educational organisations and charities across London and has plans to expand to the programme to the rest of the UK. Alice added:
“We’ve got an idea that really works and we want to focus on that and hope to get it into every school and make a real difference to the way children learn. I have learnt a huge amount about running a business. We are chiefly based in the greater London area but hope to be nationwide in the future.”
now>press>play may one day be as common a feature in the classroom as a blackboard and desks were in the past. And any improvement in children’s capacity to learn has to be welcomed, especially when it is so much fun!