Tipton Green Junior School’s motto is ‘dream, believe, achieve’. Educating hundreds of pupils from Years 3 to 6 in the heart of the Black Country in the West Midlands, the school emphasises this with a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum, while equipping pupils with strong digital skills.
We spoke to Victoria Brownhill, Assistant Headteacher, to learn more about their digital strategy, why they chose CENTURY, how AI is helping their teachers and what advice they would share with other primary schools.
What is your school’s approach to technology?
We use technology to improve teaching and learning, but also to help our children thrive in the modern world. Technology underpins a lot of what we do as a primary school because we want them to be confident using it throughout their lives. For hardware, we have sets of iPads and Chromebooks, which we use for CENTURY, Times Tables Rock Stars and other digital activities.
We think it’s important to give children access to different devices. Sometimes they’ll use an iPad, other times a Chromebook – it gives them the confidence to take more control of their learning. We want them to be confident in using all types of different technology and different apps because they need to be prepared for the world we live in.
Why did you choose CENTURY?
We have always used technology to improve learning, but experiencing lockdowns last year spurred us on to introduce a more transformative solution. Before using CENTURY, the platforms we used weren’t really working for us. Even if you could get something that was self-marked, making the actual resources was still time-consuming. When school closures became a real possibility, we wanted to get ahead of the game. We wanted something that was going to improve learning while reducing workload for the staff. The workload was going to be unmanageable if the entire school went into lockdown. That’s when we started with CENTURY and we are delighted we did.
CENTURY takes away the marking and the need to create resources, allowing our teachers to focus on what the children actually need from them as teachers. I can also see if there’s a particular question that the children are getting tripped up on, put it on the board and get them all together to explain it, and I can easily see which kids are working hard and which are struggling in real-time.
CENTURY is particularly helpful for remote teaching. One teacher at my school uses it to keep an eye on children’s effort levels during remote learning, because you could see quite clearly the effort levels of your class and praise, challenge or stretch accordingly.
How is CENTURY helping you now schools have reopened?
We’re using CENTURY in a number of different ways. For example, last Friday we used it for diagnostics in our Year 5 maths lesson to see where students might have gaps in their knowledge, but then we set it for homework tasks as well.
We’ve also used it to set tasks for the children to do, such as taking a photo of their work and uploading it. That was also how we submitted writing during lockdown, which allowed the teacher to then assess it and return it to them so they can see the feedback.
We also launched a 3D model competition and told the children to upload photographs of their models to CENTURY, which meant that somebody like me could come in and judge them, even though it wasn't my class.
Following the school closures and all the disruption, we might say that our pupils have ‘gaps’ in their learning, but we don’t call it ‘lost learning’ because we actually had quite a good programme of remote learning. When we went into lockdown, our children were doing live teaching every day and we were really hounding them to make sure they were online. We didn't have many children who weren't online. So if you call it lost learning, it's suggesting that everything they did in that lockdown was not worthwhile. It wasn't the same as being in a classroom, but there was still learning going on. The children just see it as another way of learning.
How does AI help you as a primary school teacher?
CENTURY is forward-thinking in the way that children’s work is pitched and differentiated. Teachers know that they won’t have to look for a different resource for different ability levels because the personalised pathways will always be at the right level for each child. We’ve also found that certain children who want to do extra at home can do so with CENTURY, because there’s always something for them to do on their pathway. It promotes a love of learning with the children and encourages them to take it into their own hands.
By using the diagnostics, teachers can also see where the gaps in knowledge are from the previous year. For example, CENTURY’s diagnostics data showed us that the Year 5s had forgotten much of what they had learned about decimals, so we were able to remedy that quickly.
We've had a lot of positive responses from our teachers. We did a teacher wellbeing survey in the middle of a lockdown and many of them cited that CENTURY eases their workload. Our teachers really see the value in a platform that uses AI to personalise learning but also reduce the admin work for them.
It also means that for Ofsted interim visits, we can easily provide evidence of what the children have been doing over lockdown by showing their CENTURY scores, which lessons they did and their completed work on the platform. It’s a way of evidencing and assessing what they’ve done.
What can other primary schools learn from your use of technology?
Our mission as a primary school is ‘dream, believe, achieve’, and we aim for children to leave school with the skills they need to be successful. Technology plays an important role in this.
Technology has always been more prevalent in secondary schools than in primaries. But as long as the tech is easily accessible for the children, which CENTURY is, there's no reason why primaries shouldn’t also benefit from technology. That's the world we live in, and we want the children at our school to be confident with using technology. Almost every other aspect of our lives has been digitised, so that's what they need to learn. The more we can encourage our children to use technology effectively, the better.
We are very happy with CENTURY. It has really cut down on teacher marking at a time when we need to look after staff well-being. I really notice the impact of CENTURY when talking to teachers and realise how much harder life would be without it.
Learn more about how CENTURY can supercharge the teaching and learning at your primary school.