How Nelson & Colne’s English department integrate CENTURY into the curriculum to save time and target learning

Posted on 25th March 2024

Posted by CENTURY

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


Nelson & Colne College Group is a further education college using CENTURY for English and maths. The college’s pass rate for English GCSE is more than double the national average. We caught up with members of the English department, including Charlotte Murphy, Curriculum Lead for English at Accrington campus, as well as members of her team; Sally-Anne Schofield, English GCSE tutor; Becci Smalley, Functional Skills English and maths tutor; Nikki Qureshi and Melissa Coburn, English GCSE and Functional Skills tutors. They told us how their delivery model has evolved and how they use competition to motivate their learners. 

What initially prompted you to choose CENTURY?

CM: We first found CENTURY during the lockdown period and were attracted to its use of personalised learning. Because we’re post 16, we’ve got a very limited amount of time to get through the GCSE curriculum. We struggle to deliver English alongside students’ vocational qualifications, which often eat into our curriculum time. We were keen to see how the technology could fill in gaps in knowledge that were generated throughout the period of COVID-19 and lockdown.

How do you use CENTURY? 

S-A S: We started using the Planner to set nuggets to appear in students’ pathways, but we found that our learners preferred it when we set them homework through Assignments. They enjoy that feeling of completion when an assignment is done. 

CM: We use the FE SPaG course a lot of homework for both GCSE and Functional Skills pathways. We also use it to try and integrate it where we can in Functional Skills lessons. 

BS: When students have sat an exam and received their exam feedback, we schedule target lessons where students can work on improving on their personalised targets. CENTURY has a range of nuggets covering the different skills. If a student is struggling with apostrophes, they can navigate to the My Courses tab where they can search for relevant nuggets to improve. 

CM: For the first time this year we have also tried using it as our midpoint assessment tool in Functional Skills. We set a few nuggets on topics that regularly appear within the exam. We can then view results in the Markbook. It’s a real time saver for us as we don’t need to mark hundreds of papers.

How has CENTURY been rolled out beyond the English department?

CM: We’ve got a lot of support from our ALS and the vocational team. They have their own accounts and use CENTURY in their one-on-one meetings. There is whole college buy-in for the platform, which gets the students familiar with it and means it’s part of their normal learning routine.

What impact have you seen with CENTURY?

BS: CENTURY saves so much time on marking, especially on midterm assessments. We write learner assessment plans as part of the feedback for learners. CENTURY allows us to break down the feedback and give students really concrete targets of what to complete in order to improve.  

CM: As a teacher, it’s a really good tool because you can see your whole class and how to move forward in your planning. For example, you can see if they’ve really struggled with language techniques and can build that into your next lesson. The Student Dashboard provides a nice opportunity for teachers and students to sit together to look at their progress and where they need to work.

NQ: With the lower level learners, there are skills that you can’t always recap in class, like commas and full stops, or spellings. As a teacher, you can be reassured that students are receiving a personalised nugget they can get on with or I can set it for them as homework.

MC: There has been a positive impact on homework completion, which has been a lot higher than it has been in previous years. The platform is so accessible on their phone and they can do it in their own time whenever they want. 

NQ: Students are coming in class and saying ‘You’ve not put any homework on,’ or ‘Have you checked our homework? We’ve done it.’ 

Can you share some of the initiatives you’ve used to drive student engagement?

S-A S: We’re really big fans of the Winter Cup. We came second this year in our category, which was better than the previous year. With support from members of our Quality team we’ve got the go-ahead to offer vouchers to learners who completed the most nuggets. In my classes, I shared the emails that we get to show our place, so the learners knew that it was a real competition with real students from up and down the country. This motivated them to complete nuggets and the completion rate was higher during the Winter Cup. 

How do you monitor your engagement with the students?

BS: CENTURY allows you to really easily visualise your classes, their homework and everything that you’ve set them in the Markbook. This then feeds into our college’s homework tracker, which is released to senior leadership. As a result, the whole college has an eye on students’ homework completion and it’s not just us challenging them to complete homework. They’re getting the same message from vocational tutors, personal tutors and the heads of division. This means we’re all on the same page and there’s buy-in around English and maths.

What are your plans for moving forward with CENTURY?

BS: I’d say more of the same because we use it very well in English. We’re going to be sharing best practice with the maths department. We want to continue with it because it works.

CM: We want to implement CENTURY more for GCSE. We know we can do more with it and I think the more confident we become, the more it’ll have a positive impact within the wider college. 

For more information about how CENTURY could work in your Further Education college, click here. Book a demo here.