New Meaning Training runs a number of alternative education centres that help young people to develop the confidence and skills needed to kickstart their career. They currently offer three programmes - 'Construction Skills', 'Work and Study', and 'Achieve Life Skills' - all of which incorporate English and maths Functional Skills qualifications.
Many of the young people who join their programmes have had negative experiences with these subjects throughout their time in education, making driving engagement with English and maths a challenge for the tutors at New Meaning.
We recently caught up with Co-founder and Operations Director David Lett to learn how CENTURY fits into their programmes, the impact that it is having, and what their plans are for the future.
Why did you choose CENTURY?
We're quite unique in the way we operate. Most of our learners are in a work placement for 15 to 18 hours each week, so we only work with them for three hours weekly to support them with their qualifications. These include English and maths Functional Skills.
The problem we were having with this was that when we arrived for their lessons, the students were struggling to remember what we had taught them the week before. And it’s difficult to progress when you can’t remember the rules and concepts involved, especially when it comes to things like language features or maths methods.
We needed to find a way to support their practice after class to make sure that information was converted into their long-term memory. We also wanted to help develop their independent learning capabilities so that they could keep on top of their learning between our sessions. CENTURY has been great for constantly reinforcing learning, and it’s accessible for them, so they can get on with it in their own time.
How did you find the onboarding process?
It was very simple. We just sent our Account Manager all of the details they needed and the accounts were set up and shared with us. It was seamless. The ongoing support has also been excellent, although we haven’t really needed it very much because CENTURY is so simple to use.
What has the impact of CENTURY been so far?
Certain students are really flying through the curriculum on CENTURY. The key to maths in particular is practice, practice, practice, so it’s been really promising to see how much they’ve been engaging with the platform. We have already noticed that this has reduced the amount of time these students need to revise.
There is definitely a positive correlation between use of CENTURY and sitting the Functional Skills test early. The more students use it, the faster we’re determining that they are ready to test. So all of our high users of CENTURY have already sat their Level 1 or Level 2 paper and passed it, which is fantastic.
How have students responded to the platform?
Across the board, students have found CENTURY really beneficial. Most of our students really don’t enjoy English and maths because they became so disenfranchised with the subjects at school. They really like the look of CENTURY though and have found it simple to use, which has had a positive impact on engagement overall.
It’s also helping to increase their confidence because they can practice the content they have covered in lessons by themselves. CENTURY provides them with a system that not only gives them real-time feedback, but also adjusts the difficulty level of the content as needed, which helps rebuild their confidence with the subject matter without the fear of judgement that comes with a person watching over them.
A lot of our students have ADHD, which makes it difficult for them to sustain their attention on tasks. We have found it particularly beneficial that the nuggets on CENTURY break down the content into manageable chunks. Students can log in and just spend 10-15 minutes on the platform at a time, and they’ll still get something useful out of it. They can take a break if they need to and come back to it a few minutes later without any issues.
What do tutors think of CENTURY?
Our tutors find it helpful to use CENTURY to break down certain topics, particularly for maths, which doesn’t come naturally to many of our students. Sometimes you can’t quite pinpoint why a student can’t understand a concept, or you assume that they have the fundamental subject knowledge they need, but CENTURY doesn’t have those preconceptions.
It doesn’t have to guess what learners do or don’t know yet, and it doesn’t care about their background. It just gathers data on what they’re doing on the platform, adjusts, and moves them on to the content they need to see, whether that means taking a step back or pushing them on to more difficult work.
Tutors also find it useful to use as a link between them and the students in between lessons. If a tutor is going to see the students on Tuesday, they can still log in on Thursday, see who has been doing some work on CENTURY and send them a text or WhatsApp just to acknowledge their hard work and share some words of encouragement.
What are your plans for the future?
This has been our first year with CENTURY, so we have been finding our feet with it and making sure the students are confident using it. However, we’ll be looking to push it out more next year, particularly as a revision tool given the benefits we’ve already seen for students who have been actively using the platform.
We also want to start doing more with it from a management perspective in terms of intelligence gathering. One of the things I'm planning to do is to start sharing some of the statistics and insights at our managers and team meetings.
A difficulty we are currently facing is that about a quarter of our students don't have access at home to either the hardware or broadband needed to effectively learn remotely. We are currently looking at ways to help them borrow a laptop, such as from a library, and are trying to get funding to enable wider access to technology.
Learn more about how CENTURY can support apprenticeships and training providers.