How CENTURY is enhancing learning at Wapping High School

Posted on 31st March 2022

Posted by CENTURY

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Wapping High School is an innovative secondary school in London run by The Wapping and Shadwell Secondary Education Trust (WSSET). The school's curriculum has been carefully designed to follow a personalised learning approach, providing flexibility to meet the needs of students of different abilities.

We caught up with Tom Dean, the school's Assistant Head of School and Director of Learning (Science), to find out why the school chose CENTURY, the impact it is having, and what teachers, students and senior leaders think of the platform. 

What initially prompted you to choose CENTURY for your school?

We really liked the adaptive nature of it. We liked the fact that it takes some of the pressure away from teachers when it comes to assigning work, and guides pupils when it comes to identifying what they need to revise. 

We were also impressed by the quality and breadth of the content on CENTURY. As a science teacher who teaches particularly content-heavy qualifications, the fact that the platform has a vast bank of high-quality resources is something I really value. We even use some of the videos in lessons now because they are usually the best ones that you can find. 

The interface is also very simple. Whilst I consider myself quite tech savvy, I'm aware that there is a range of IT literacy across our staff, and I was confident that everybody would be able to work with it. 

Has CENTURY saved your teachers time?

It has personally saved me a lot of time, and as a Head of Department, I only have three classes. So for the teachers who have six, seven classes, it must be saving a lot more time when you take into the fact that they're not having to mark homework, or export things to mark books. Everything's all in one place.

I certainly can't see how anybody could use CENTURY and not save time.

What do you think of the content on the platform?

From a science teacher’s perspective, I love the fact that it covers everything, even including the most complicated content. I sometimes find that revision resources only cover up to level five or six content, because they're trying to condense everything down and not appear too overwhelming to pupils. But the depth and breadth of CENTURY is something that really drew me to it. I know that even if I've got a triple science pupil who's aiming to achieve Grade 9s, I can point them towards nuggets on CENTURY that are genuinely going to support and stretch them.

How do you find using the leadership dashboard from an SLT perspective? 

It’s really useful. During periods of school closure over the last couple of years, it was probably one of my most visited web pages! I used it to provide SLT with weekly reports on the number of hours spent on the platform, number of logins, number of nuggets and so on. 

We also use it to celebrate pupils’ achievements. For example, every Friday during lockdown, we had a whole school virtual assembly and I would do a piece based entirely around top CENTURY users. We would also mix it up. One week we might focus on who spent the most time on the platform, another week it would be the most correct answers, most nuggets attempted, most questions attempted, highest accuracy, highest number of 100%, and so on. This really motivated a significant percentage of pupils, and it was often a surprise which star users would emerge. 

How have students found CENTURY in terms of engaging with and having agency over their learning?

CENTURY has been really, really positive in helping support student agency over their learning, because it strikes the right balance between independence, and enough guidance from that invisible hand. 

All of the GCSEs require a broad range of content, especially within science, so when pupils sit down and think to themselves ‘okay, what do I have to revise?’, the odds of them getting that 100% right based on their own intuition is pretty small. They also often fall into the pitfalls of revising the things that they're already good at.

Having the ability to set work on CENTURY and knowing that once students have completed it, the AI will kick in and give them some good follow-up recommendations really provides you with peace of mind. It helps us with the one thing we can't control, which is what they do once they leave our building. This is probably the thing that has the most significant impact on how they're going to do in their exams. 

All of the students work hard in lessons, but work outside of the classroom is just as important to their overall success - they really need to put in that time. CENTURY makes sure that I can sleep relatively easily at night, knowing that they have the support they need when it comes to work on their own time. 

How do you use CENTURY in school?

In the Lower School, we use a lot of the nuggets as plenaries and lesson finishers. Once teachers finish teaching a topic, they'll set that nugget as a summary at the end of the lesson.

In the Upper School, it’s used more for flipped learning. I'll set the nuggets in advance and say ‘these are the topics that we're going to look at next, and I expect you to have completed these nuggets by the start of the week’. This way they come into the lesson with the base knowledge they need to get started and we can hit the ground running. 

We also recognise that there are certain topics within each subject that require less teacher input compared to others. For example, with electrical circuit symbols, rather than carving out half an hour on this during the school day, we can just assign them the nugget to complete at home and they will nearly all achieve 100% on their first or second attempt. I can then focus our class time on more complicated topics like parallel circuits, and use the nugget for revision at the end of that. 

We also use CENTURY in Key Stage 4 for homework and revision, and we  interleave topics by setting a combination of nuggets from current topics and from topics covered in Year 9 and 10. The opportunity to keep drip feeding topics from the past to help reinforce learning is a massive perk of the platform. 

How has your use of the platform changed over time?

I think we're a lot more thoughtful about how we use CENTURY than we used to be. It's turned into another thread of our curriculum. At the start, we used it more as a homework tool, and to help cover lessons, whereas now, we’re trying to use it not just to support pupils, but also to inform ourselves as teachers. 

So for the next 10 weeks or so, our interventions in school are going to be based on CENTURY results. For example, rather than inviting the whole of Year 11 to a thirty minute after-school session on forces, we set everybody the appropriate nuggets, and then we can focus these sessions on the pupils who clearly need extra support. 

In the past, whenever we held an intervention session, we’d have 50 pupils turn up. But they weren’t actually that impactful because you can’t individually support 50 people in one session. 

Now, rather than having half an hour with 50 kids, we can spend 10 minutes with five pupils who need the most support in each specific area.  We use the data from CENTURY to decide who to invite to each session, tailoring the topics to individual needs. In this way, we can be more efficient and economical with our revision time, whilst actually having a greater impact.

Book a demo to learn how CENTURY can support your school.