Secondary school students are embracing online learning like never before as the coronavirus pandemic continues to reshape the UK’s education system.

That’s the message from market-leading EdTech provider GCSEPod, which says it has seen a steep rise in Key Stage 4 students across the UK and overseas accessing its award-winning content since schools reopened in September.

October saw in excess of 1.2m of the education on-demand service’s award-winning GCSE revision and learning videos – known as Pods – watched by students, a 58% increase over September.

But it’s the Newcastle-based company’s Check and Challenge assessment system which has really caught students’ imagination, with an astonishing 133% month-on-month leap in October in the number of questions attempted across the 10 GCSE subjects covered by the innovative resource.

Anthony Coxon, co-founder and director of GCSEPod, which is a division of Soundbitelearning UK Ltd, says it is evidence of the growing popularity of remote learning after the coronavirus pandemic forced UK schools to close their doors in March, with the majority not reopening until the start of the autumn term.

He said: “The nationwide closure of schools saw a complete shift to online learning for all age groups. But while classroom lessons have now resumed, our figures show that remote learning is not being put on the back burner with schools adopting new hybrid models of teaching, and secondary students continuing to embrace digital alternatives to help power their education.

“The most compelling evidence for this comes from our ground-breaking Check and Challenge evaluation resource, which doesn’t just test student knowledge but offers scaffolded support via hints, multiple-choice options and feedback statements to promote learning.

“This October saw a massive 275% growth in questions tackled across the sciences, history geography and computer science, with maths seeing a 41% increase over September and English coming in at 36%.

“These are amazing statistics, and as Check and Challenge is explicitly a self-assessment resource, I believe this shows not just a clear desire amongst students to take charge of their own learning, but how comfortable they are engaging with EdTech.“

GCSEPod has been at the forefront of remote learning for more than a decade. It has seen a surge in demand since March for its focused learning covering 28 GCSE and IGCSE subjects across more than 6,000 visually appealing three to five-minute bursts of teacher written audiovisual content that can be watched on or offline on smartphones, tablets and PCs.

Primarily aimed at Years 9-11 (KS4), it is also suitable for younger age groups, as shown during lockdown with schools using history, English literature and combined science Pods successfully with Years 7 and 8.

Mr Coxon added: “The first Covid-19 lockdown saw 819,084 of our revision videos watched between March 23-29 alone, helping to make it our second-ever busiest month. The peak in usage was at 9:05 am each morning as students prepared themselves for as normal a school day as possible.

“The trend continued throughout lockdown and even over the summer holidays. The Pod usage pattern has understandably been very different from previous years. There was no massive peak in May because there were no exams, but we had greater usage overall and we also broadened our base.

“We saw a huge 235% increase in Pod usage in July, and this continued into the summer holiday with a 102% year-on-year increase in August, which I believe shows not just a clear desire amongst students to take learning into their own hands, but how comfortable they are with working remotely online.

“We can see EdTech playing a much bigger role as we move forward. Just as people in work settings have had to move online, teaching and learning habits have also had to dramatically change over the past few months, not least when it comes to blended learning, which involves in-person lessons combined with home study.

“With uncertainty still surrounding how we tackle education during the ongoing pandemic the blended approach, which GCSEPod has been supporting since 2010 through its unique Pods, is fast becoming the benchmark.

“There is now a recognition that flipped, blended and independent learning are vital as education by necessity will from now on have to move fluidly from the classroom to online as we all embrace the new ‘normal.’”