How Bradford College uses AI to ensure no students fall behind

Posted on 26th April 2021

Posted by Zoë Green


For millions of students, Covid-19 has changed education forever, with schools and colleges adapting to new methods of teaching and learning. 

It’s a challenging time for everyone, but Bradford College’s partnership with AI-powered online learning platform CENTURY has helped students to successfully learn English and maths online, while promoting a positive longer-term change in the way that students learn.

With support from CENTURY, students have done Bradford College proud with excellent results for learners resitting their maths and English GCSEs in November.

In its first two months of using the platform, Bradford College was also the top further education college in the country for the highest number of questions answered by students via the learning tool. During the first period of lockdown in 2020, they answered more than half a million questions in total.

One student said: “I have learnt a lot and it is now one of the main ways I study English, so thank you.”

Using CENTURY to support all students

CENTURY is an intuitive online learning platform that uses AI, learning science and neuroscience to personalise teaching to each individual student. As well as teaching maths and English, it analyses learners’ strengths, and areas where they need more help. Bradford College Head of English and Maths, Adrian Hutchinson, said: “It benefits all learners. We see it as a diagnostic assessment tool, to find out what skills gaps our students have.”

Now that college has returned to face-to-face teaching and with exams cancelled this year, Adrian says the college is also using CENTURY to help to award students their grades.

“We are in the process of collating all information pertaining to the awarding of the Teacher Assessed Grades in English and maths. Students have been taking their assessment points and we have been using CENTURY to ensure they develop their skills. This will help them in achieving their grades,” says Adrian.

“We have set clear expectations on the amount of time students should spend on CT to develop their skills, ensuring that they are best prepared to improve their grades.” 

But despite learners physically returning to college, Bradford still needed a way to ensure that students had an effective online platform to support them outside the classroom. Should restrictions return, it is more important than ever to keep disruption to a minimum, and enable students to achieve their potential. 

As well as advising the student, the platform provides data to their tutor so that they know where their pupil needs the most support. This ensures that even during lockdown, the connection between tutor and student remains.  Adrian added: “It can help demonstrate whether they’ve mastered a set of key skills before they’ve moved onto another area of study.” 

How have students responded to CENTURY?

From 25th March 2020 – just after the government announced the first physical closure of colleges and schools – to 25th May 2020, Bradford College students answered more than 346,000 questions in total. 

More than 1,000 students used CENTURY Tech in the college’s first two months of using the tool, with each of those students answering 329 questions on average.

Hassan Mehmood answered more than 21,000 questions, Usman Khan answered almost 12,000 questions while Mohammed Hassan Farooq took on almost 7,000 questions.

Adrian said: “We were originally planning to use CENTURY from September 2020 onwards but when the government announced lockdown measures, we decided to go ahead and use it straight away. We used it from the beginning of lockdown.

“One of the primary drivers behind this was being able to use it to develop English and Maths skills. It uses gamification to engage learners.

“There is also a bit of behavioural science behind the platform. When we went into lockdown, we sent a message to students who were predicted grade 3s in their GCSE exams but were on the cusp of getting a grade 4. We advised them to need to go to CENTURY Tech to help push them towards that grade 4. It’s now become an integral part of our teaching and learning.”

Students are asked to rate their experience with CENTURY by selecting 'emotions'. The top emotion, selected by more than 2,600 students, was ‘happy’, closely followed by ‘proud’ at 1,600. 

Adrian said: “The face of traditional teaching is going to change for the foreseeable future. Our success with CENTURY shows how effectively we’ve embraced it.”

CENTURY is just one of the tools that have supported Bradford College to adapt its teaching and learning to all its students during the pandemic. The college’s success in this has been highlighted by Ofsted. An interim visit report found college leaders and governors had adapted to the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic to continue to teach effectively and ensure the wellbeing of all students and staff.

The feedback from students shows the tool is having a highly positive effect. One learner remarked: “CENTURY Tech is helping me develop the skills I need to pass my maths exam. I have learnt a lot of new things.”

Another said: “It has helped my maths skills and has boosted my grade which I am ecstatic about. Thank you.”

Learn more about how CENTURY is helping FE colleges to supercharge their teaching and learning.