The Keys Federation is a group of four primary schools near Wigan that have placed technology at the heart of all aspects of their education. Technology is used to improve outcomes for pupils, reduce workload for staff and involve parents more in their child’s education.
Sally Naylor teaches Years 4 and 5 at St John’s Church of England Primary School, Abram, and uses CENTURY to help teach maths, reading, SPAG and science. Team CENTURY caught up with Sally to learn more about how the platform’s AI is helping to transform teaching and learning, with a particular focus on how the platform is being used to boost pupils’ engagement with homework.
How is CENTURY’s AI platform changing the way you teach?
CENTURY enables me to both enhance and focus my teaching in the classroom. Through the teacher dashboard I am able to analyse pupils’ data and plan more focussed learning for each individual child. I can see if any individual child needs more support or requires me to intervene, or if they need stretching with more difficult material.
It is a great tool for teachers and I use it in the classroom in numerous ways.
Firstly, it is great for prior learning, which is where the children use CENTURY before I teach a subject, so they can be ‘pre-taught’ some basic facts. This means I can get an idea of how the class is already doing in that subject before I teach it.
Secondly, I use it for consolidating existing knowledge – so I often set nuggets for them to do once I have taught my own lesson on the same topic, reinforcing the material in their minds.
Thirdly, I use CENTURY for setting homework, and we have seen a huge increase in participation in homework thanks to the platform. Our parents say it is much less of a battle to get children to do their homework and it is much easier to see who’s learning what at home. The children tell me they now love doing homework, often because of the videos and presentations on CENTURY. If I just set them worksheets then it would be much harder for parents to get the children to do them. Parents can almost use CENTURY as a teacher at home, too, and the instant feedback provides a really handy tool, as they don’t have to wait for me to mark their books.
How can CENTURY improve learning outside the classroom?
It really helps that children are able to access it at home. We have run training events for parents, so they can use it with their children at home. Parents find it especially helpful for using at home for maths and SPAG, as they have technical language that not everyone can be expected to know. Parents report that it explains things the way children need to know it, helping parents out as well. So when they go back to school on a Monday, they are prepared to get on with learning in the classroom. I sometimes notice that children will make a note of the nugget they are learning in class to practise it further when they get home. I also hear of our students using CENTURY on an iPad in the car home after school – parents say it is brilliant that they can do their homework on the go.
How do the children respond to it?
They engage with it really well and love going on CENTURY – I find that it promotes their independence more, which is important for primary learners. It leads to self-motivated learning – they go on and do their own thing and can see what they need to learn by themselves. They like how direct it is, as it tells them what they need to do. They also like being able to change the learning method. One child may prefer learning from a presentation, another may be struggling with something but the option to click on a YouTube link and learn a different way – that’s really helpful for them.
In the children’s minds, on CENTURY they are just learning, but they are aware this is completely new and advanced technology. They understand that it is using artificial intelligence and they know it is higher level but because they live in a technological world, they adapt easily and it becomes part of their everyday life.
What should primary schools in particular keep in mind when using technology?
There are online safety considerations with any technology, but we know the platform is secure. We do not use it all day every day and follow best practice screen time usage guidelines. As we are a primary school and with budgets being as they are, we have to rotate the use of our devices. Primaries like us do not have loads of tech, but we use it well, deploying it to complement what is already going on in the classroom.
How is artificial intelligence impacting teacher workload?
We love that we are using AI here, it really is transforming what we’re doing in terms of teaching and learning across the classroom and at home. It’s fully embedded in our learning and our children know what they’re doing at all times.
It has really reduced my workload as the work is automatically marked and you get instant data. I am able to focus on a particular group, say Year 4, while Year 5 are able to work independently. It is a way of reducing teacher workload while still getting that vital information to inform planning. With homework alone it reduces marking massively. I am finding that it’s saving me literally hours a week – other teachers at school are looking forward to getting their hands on it for that reason!