Southgate primary in West Sussex is one of many British schools bringing games into the classroom, with staff seeing benefits for parents as well as students
At the end of the summer term at Southgate primary school in Crawley, West Sussex, a class of 10-year-olds are folding together cardboard models of remote-controlled cars and decorating them with pipe cleaners, pens, googly eyes and tape, with the aim of using them to transport a biscuit across a table and into the open mouths of their teachers.
The kids are playing with Nintendo Labo, an ingenious game that comes with a box of fold-up cardboard models that turn from inert facsimiles into working toys, with the addition of a Nintendo Switch console. Snap two controllers on to a cardboard car and it judders across the table. A cardboard piano becomes a working keyboard with a screen. A cardboard fishing rod can be used to play a fishing game, attached by string to a base housing the console. They are fun to play with, but they also teach engineering principles – the software includes a child-friendly but comprehensive breakdown of how the console uses features such as vibration, infrared cameras and gyroscopes to make the models work.