A CENTURY pilot at the Island School in Hong Kong

Posted on 27th March 2023

Posted by CENTURY

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes


We spoke to Gary Corlett, Head of English Language and Literature at Island School, one of the 22 schools in the English Schools Foundation (ESF) in Hong Kong, about how they ran a successful pilot of CENTURY for English. The pilot included around fifty students across two Year 10 classes, and the school now has over 1,000 students across 45 classes using CENTURY every day.

How was the pilot?

The pilot was really useful. Anything like this, you need to play around with it, give it a little test run through with the students and get some feedback from them. Then you start to see how that will fit within the department plan. It was really valuable. We chose two Year 10 groups as there are nuggets on the topics we were working on for GCSE, and CENTURY is linked to the Cambridge English Language syllabus, which also appealed. We did the diagnostics and set a couple of assignments that tied in with the teaching we were doing.

The two Year 10 groups had extraordinary usage across the two-week pilot. The usage reports were very interesting as they showed the amount of work done. It can be difficult to demonstrate progress over such a short period, but you could see progress here as the complexity of the nuggets that the students were working on improved dramatically. We asked for data on the nuggets specific students had done and how they had shown improvement on the specific skills they were working on. It was really useful to see that progress documented in real time.

The support from CENTURY throughout the pilot was absolutely amazing. The whole approach was very supportive, there was no pressure of being given a deadline to sign on a dotted line. CENTURY feels like a very nice and supportive atmosphere, that was a real bonus. Every question I or the department had was answered straightaway, and everything was explained very well. The timings of the sessions have been excellent, allowing us to experiment a little bit from our side.

The account manager was very helpful. There was enough contact that I really got my head around the platform as well, and I was able to answer any quick queries and questions from the department. How well I feel I know the platform is a testament to the CENTURY team. So far, it’s been very positive.

What happened at the end of the pilot?

I met the other teachers for feedback, and I gave feedback forms to my class. Then I took that information to the Head of Teaching and Learning to tell her about the success of CENTURY. She was supportive of taking it to the next stage given its success, but it took a bit of time as we had to justify why it is better than other platforms. I put my research and opinions forward about why it is the best fit for us.

Once you know how CENTURY works with one group, you feel very confident using it with another group. It would just be different nuggets that you would use, and you might use it in slightly different ways. The pilot was really good for explaining that to the rest of the department. It was a way to experiment and make a couple of mistakes without feeling like you were making mistakes. Having the pilot to work through, navigate and think about how we would actually use it took some of the pressure off. Moving on to the next step felt quite easy. Actually, it would have been quite tough to have spent the money without having a go and really seeing how we would be able to use it if I'm honest.

I promoted it a lot around teacher wellbeing as well, as it was a way to give teachers relief during heavy marking periods, saying that we could shift our thinking around how we mark: let the platform mark the grammar, punctuation and spelling, and we can mark things like structure for extended writing pieces and content. I made the case that CENTURY was a good way of being able to individualise learning, but at the same time take some onus away from the teachers needing to put that extra work into doing that. That became a hit with the department when I said that to them.

The students really liked the pilot too. They liked the dashboard and the fact that they could see their targets, and knew their scores. It is very easy to navigate through. I set a nugget for my class today on descriptive writing. The majority of them did very well, but there were a couple of questions that most of them got wrong, so it was good to go over that in class to see why they had got those wrong.

Learn more about piloting CENTURY at international schools here. Book a CENTURY pilot for your international school here.