How tech can turbocharge your school’s remote learning plans

Posted on 1st September 2020

Posted by Tom Thacker


Lockdown is over and schools are thankfully returning to something resembling normality. But in anticipation of any future disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the British government has outlined that it expects all schools to have a robust remote learning contingency plan in place by the end of September.

This guidance emphasises that immediate remote education should be offered to pupils who need to self-isolate and, in the occurrence of a local lockdown, to all pupils during any period of school closure.

We have analysed the guidelines to provide a point-by-point explainer of how CENTURY, our AI-powered learning tools, can help your school to not simply meet, but even surpass these expectations. We also look at a number of schools who successfully used CENTURY to keep learning flowing throughout lockdown.

In developing contingency plans, schools are expected to:

• use a curriculum sequence that allows access to high-quality online and offline resources and teaching videos, and that is linked to the school’s curriculum expectations

• give access to high quality remote education resources

Our learning materials are all made by experienced teachers and include curriculum-aligned English, maths and science courses catering from year 3 to GCSE and Functional Skills level. In addition to slideshows and question sets, these resources include high-quality, easy-to-follow videos featuring engaging animations, clear explanations and examples of questions and answers. In June, CENTURY was highlighted by the DfE as a high-quality and appropriate resource for home education during school closure, offering full coverage of the National Curriculum for online learning.

Laura Butcher, Principal of St John’s C. of E. Primary School: “Should the government decide that school closures are necessary, the staff will continue working. We already have procedures established for interacting with students and analysing their learning to see that they continue to progress. CENTURY plays an important role here by providing data to inform those conversations between students, teachers and parents.” Read more.

Schools using CENTURY are able to use our entire range of courses. In addition, we work closely with our schools to make sure that the materials all align with the school’s existing curriculum expectations. This ensures that the content covered on CENTURY corresponds to what is being taught in the classroom.

In developing contingency plans, schools are expected to:

• select the online tools that will be consistently used across the school in order to allow interaction, assessment and feedback, and make sure staff are trained in their use

CENTURY’s extensive range of courses mean that the platform can be implemented across the whole school, offering leaders a clear overview of the progress of all year groups. 

While completing question sets, users are provided with instant automated feedback written by CENTURY’s team of teachers at the time that the course was created, meaning that pupil misconceptions are remedied immediately. Teachers can also use the function of setting assignments to send individual feedback either in writing or as an audio or video file. 

Gavin Boyle, Director of ICT at St Christopher’s School: “The implementation of CENTURY at St Christopher’s was done with very hands-on and continuous support to ensure the product was suited to our learning environment. Our teachers really like the content already available and have commented on the depth of questions, not only in supporting the learner, but also offering challenge where appropriate.”

Our seamless remote onboarding process led to the successful rollout of CENTURY in hundreds of schools during lockdown. We provide support at every step of the way: schools receive a dedicated partnership manager who will discuss the best ways to integrate CENTURY with a school’s specific policies and pedagogy, ensure that staff are trained in its use and feel confident using the full functionality of the platform and offer ongoing support throughout the school’s use of the platform.

In developing contingency plans, schools are expected to:

• recognise that younger pupils and some pupils with SEND may not be able to access remote education without adult support, and so schools should work with families to deliver a broad and ambitious curriculum.

While learning remotely, parents can support their child’s use of the platform by engaging with their results via the Student Dashboard and working through materials with them. This, along with the adaptive nature of the platform that both provides support and pushes pupils as appropriate, helps young people with a variety of SEND needs to thrive. By focusing on the user’s individual needs and creating a personalised learning journey, the platform helps to promote a growth mindset and creates more confident learners.

When teaching pupils remotely, schools are expected to:

• provide frequent, clear explanations of new content, delivered by a teacher in the school or through high quality curriculum resources and/or videos

CENTURY’s learning materials are available in various formats, including videos, slides and interactive question sets, and provide frequent, clear and easy-to-follow explanations. All of our resources are produced by our in-house team of experienced teachers and are based on design principles and cognitive load theory to engage pupils and promote memory retention. This makes it possible for pupils to do more on the platform than simply revise topics already learned in the classroom: teachers can set new content with the confidence that their pupils will have access to the high-quality resources required to ensure understanding.

When teaching pupils remotely, schools are expected to:

• plan a programme that is of equivalent length to the core teaching pupils would receive in school, ideally including daily contact with teachers

• gauge how well pupils are progressing through the curriculum, using questions and other suitable tasks and set a clear expectation on how regularly teachers will check work

Our automated marking system provides pupils with immediate results and teachers with real time, in-depth data on their pupils’ progress. 

Izzy Rice, Michaela Community School, London: “CENTURY has been very useful as it gives a really clear picture of how the pupils are getting on at home. It tells us exactly how fast they work, how much content they have covered, what they have struggled with, what they have forgotten and remembered, and what they know as a result of covering a specific set of topics. We look at the data in forensic detail which has helped us a lot.” Read more.

This easy-to-use data is presented on the Teacher Dashboard and can be utilised to inform conversations with pupils and parents/guardians and to target interventions. Teachers are also able to view which and how much content pupils have covered over a certain time period, so ensuring that they are covering the same amount of content as would be taught in school.

When teaching pupils remotely, schools are expected to:

• teach a planned and well-sequenced curriculum so that knowledge and skills are built incrementally, with a good level of clarity about what is intended to be taught and practised in each subject 

• enable teachers to adjust the pace or difficulty of what is being taught in response to questions or assessments, including, where necessary, revising material or simplifying explanations to ensure pupils’ understanding

At the heart of CENTURY is an artificial intelligence-powered platform that personalises learning for the student. It analyses pupils’ strengths and weaknesses to create a constantly-adapting learning pathway that is tailored to each individual’s current ability level and knowledge. This directs pupils who are struggling to the learning materials needed to boost their understanding while also providing high-scoring users with challenge and stretch. 

Tom Dean, Director of Learning at Wapping High School: “Wapping plans on using both CENTURY’s learning and diagnostic assessment functions to help students to learn and to inform their teachers and parents of progress. In the case of closures the school is looking to direct them towards the diagnostics on CENTURY. Wapping will rely heavily on the AI of CENTURY to suggest the best learning for the students to follow.” Read more.

When students revisit a nugget on CENTURY, they will see an equivalent but not identical set of assessment questions, enabling them to check their retention and revise material previously learned.

When teaching pupils remotely, schools are expected to:

• set assignments so that pupils have meaningful and ambitious work each day in a number of different subjects

While CENTURY’s AI tailors learning automatically, teachers are also able to set pupils specific lessons – we call them nuggets – themselves. These teacher-assigned nuggets appear at the front of the pupil’s learning pathway ahead of the AI-recommended nuggets, allowing teachers to maintain control over what is being taught. It is also possible to set nuggets from any course available on CENTURY. For example, nuggets from Key Stage 3 could be set to a Key Stage 4 student who is struggling with a particular topic.

Jonathan Gunzi, Head of Secondary, Hastings School: “The whole experience of lockdown creates a certain amount of independence. We complain as teachers that students need spoon-feeding, but using CENTURY is definitely a good way of combating that. We are supposedly back to some sort of normal in September, but with inevitable restrictions. CENTURY will continue to be an important part of learning, especially if some teachers and students will be still required to periodically isolate.” Read more.

This brief guide shows how CENTURY can meet and surpass the government’s expectations for remote learning contingency plans. But this only scratches the surface of what CENTURY can do for your school. Book your place on our free webinars to find out more about how CENTURY is able to supercharge teaching and learning, whether pupils are in or out of the classroom.