For millions of students, Covid 19 has changed education forever as schools and colleges have adapted to new methods of teaching.

It’s a challenging time for everyone, but thanks to a partnership between Bradford College and online learning platform CENTURY Tech, the move to learning maths and English online has been a success.

With support from CENTURY Tech, students have done Bradford College proud with excellent results for learners resitting their maths and English GCSEs in November.

In its first two months of using the platform, Bradford College was also the top further education college in the country for the highest number of questions answered by students via the learning tool. During the first period of lockdown in 2020, they answered more than half a million questions in total.

One student said: “I have learnt a lot and it is now one of the main ways I study English, so thank you.”

CENTURY is an intuitive online learning platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI), learning science and neuroscience to personalise teaching to each individual student. As well as teaching maths and English, it analyses learners’ strengths, and areas where they need more help. Bradford College Head of English and Maths, Adrian Hutchinson, said: “It benefits all learners. We see it as a diagnostic assessment tool, to find out what skills gaps our students have.”

While face-to-face learning remained key after learners physically returned to college in September, the college still needed a way to ensure that students had an effective online platform to support them outside the classroom.

With Bradford being subject to local coronavirus restrictions, it was more important than ever to keep disruption to a minimum, and enable students to achieve their potential.

As well as advising the student, the platform provides data to their tutor so that they know where their pupil needs the most support. This ensures that even during lockdown, the connection between tutor and student remains. Adrian added: “It can help demonstrate whether they’ve mastered a set of key skills before they’ve moved onto another area of study.”

From 25th March 2020 – just after the government announced the physical closure of colleges and schools in light of the pandemic – to 25th May 2020, Bradford College students answered more than 346,000 questions in total.

More than 1,000 students used CENTURY Tech in the college’s first two months of using the tool, with each of those students answering 329 questions on average.

Hassan Mehmood answered more than 21,000 questions, Usman Khan answered almost 12,000 questions while Mohammed Hassan Farooq took on almost 7,000 questions.

Adrian said: “We were originally planning to use CENTURY from September 2020 onwards but when the government announced lockdown measures, we decided to go ahead and use it straight away. We have used it from the beginning of lockdown.

“One of the primary drivers behind this was being able to use it to develop English and Maths skills. It uses gamification to engage learners.

“There is also a bit of behavioural science behind the platform. When we went into lockdown, we sent a message to students who were predicted grade 3s in their GCSE exams but were on the cusp of getting a grade 4. We advised them to need to go to CENTURY Tech to help push them towards that grade 4. It’s now become an integral part of our teaching and learning.”

Students are asked to rate their experience with CENTURY by selecting 'emotions'. The top emotion, selected by more than 2,600 students, was ‘happy’, closely followed by ‘proud’ at 1,600.

Adrian said: “The face of traditional teaching is going to change for the foreseeable future. Our success with CENTURY shows how effectively we’ve embraced it.”

CENTURY is just one of the tools that have supported Bradford College to adapt its teaching and learning to all its students during 2020. The college’s success in this has been highlighted by OFSTED. An interim visit report found college leaders and governors had adapted to the restrictions of the Covid 19 pandemic to continue to teach effectively and ensure the wellbeing of all students and staff.

The feedback from students shows the tool is having a highly positive effect. One learner remarked: “CENTURY Tech is helping me develop the skills I need to pass my maths exam. I have learnt a lot of new things.”

Another said: “It has helped my maths skills and has boosted my grade which I am ecstatic about. Thank you.”

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