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A different class of online tuition: why we launched Cognita Tutoring

The impact of the lockdowns during the pandemic, and consequent move to online learning, has provided an equal measure of challenge and opportunity.

As a global schools group with over 80 schools worldwide, we certainly felt the impact of the pandemic across all our schools but were well placed to switch to online delivery of lessons as we had already invested in the latest educational technology (EdTech) platforms and hardware.

Our army of qualified teachers was given the support and training to hone their skills in the new digital world which meant that we were able to provide a continuous education for all Cognita students. Our ambition with the launch of Cognita Tutoring is to build on this learning to create a new gold standard in online tutoring by placing qualified teachers at the heart of our offer, in combination with the latest in EdTech, to provide a truly exceptional experience for students.

The past year has been difficult for a lot of school pupils, with many missing regular teaching. A recent report from the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) found that intensive tutoring (e.g. 2.5 hours a week for 12 weeks) can result in five months’ extra progress in a year. We aspire to help students get their education back on track and equip them with the skills and confidence that will help to widen opportunities for them in the months and years ahead.

Our tutoring provision follows three key principles:

Regulated, qualified teachers provide a structured learning environment

It was clear to us that fully qualified teachers would play a core role. We know that children learn differently, and what works for one child will not necessarily work for another. We needed to have an experienced base of tutors that were skilled in not only delivering the subject knowledge but who had a range of teaching methods up their sleeves, understood the curriculum and were capable of adapting their lessons mid-way through according to the child and their needs. We have hand-picked and interviewed every one of our tutors. Every tutor is a qualified teacher, fully DBS checked and approved. They have all received a thorough onboarding process which includes safeguarding training and a focus on every child’s character development and wellbeing. Setting the highest standards for all of our tutors is fundamental to delivering our original vision of quality.

Intelligent technology empowers student learning

We could see from our own experience that the rapid acceleration of EdTech across our schools during the 2020 lockdowns provided innovative learning support for children which benefited them in inspiring new ways. We knew that this needed to be a part of our tutoring formula and so we partnered with CENTURY, the award-winning AI-driven learning platform that is used by thousands of schools in ten different countries. One of CENTURY’s key characteristics is that it promotes independent learning and, thereby, boosts self-confidence. Our tutoring sessions are always led and designed by the tutor who will work with and teach the child for the full lesson. However, having CENTURY to support learning in between sessions, to provide added insight into a child’s learning progress, and to adapt a child’s learning path ‘on the go’ represents additional value that a tutor simply couldn’t provide alongside their teaching within a given session. It is important to qualify that for us, the technology will always support the teaching, rather than replace it.

Parents are central to progress

We recognise that it is a privilege for us to teach your child. It is therefore critical that you are confident your child is getting what they need from their sessions. We knew regular feedback needed to be an essential part of our tutoring mix, and we believe we have succeeded with personal feedback after every session and a mini ‘parents’ evening’ after every sixth session. It is equally as important for us that we start every session with a clear understanding of each child’s educational needs. As such, our educational team devised a short survey to help identify any specific educational challenges and learn more about what each child wishes to achieve from their sessions. Similarly, CENTURY requests that a short assessment is completed to help the technology understand a child’s current understanding and ‘build’ a learning journey to help reinforce the learning that takes place in the lesson.

Ultimately, our goal is to provide the confidence that children need to excel and achieve the results they deserve.

Whether the need is subject-specific knowledge or reinforcing key skills ahead of a transition into a new school year, our tutors have the experience to work with children at all levels. At Cognita Tutoring, it is our view that confidence doesn’t stop in the classroom. Confidence is a skill that can serve to boost a child’s experience in so many different parts of their life. When a child shines in the classroom their wider character also develops positively.

After recent lockdowns, we believe that now is the time to ensure that our young people not only have the opportunity to catch up on any lost learning needs, but that they feel secure in themselves to chase and embrace any wider social or personal goals, taking a new-found confidence with them into their future.