Personalised learning the biggest challenge to teaching in COVID-19, say teachers and school leaders

  • New research from Renaissance has found that personalising teaching (28%) and engaging students (25%) are the biggest challenges to teaching during the pandemic
  • Online quizzes and assessment most popular online tool (39%) since the start of the outbreak

New research from Renaissance, which creates educational software tools to improve outcomes and accelerate learning, puts personalising learning for individual pupils top of the list of challenges for remote schooling. The research asked over a thousand senior school leaders, department heads, and teachers (1,147) about their experiences of teaching since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Schools are facing a range of challenges as they quickly adapt to online learning. Tailoring work and assessment to meet individual pupil needs was cited as the biggest challenge (28%) followed by engaging students (25%). With a potential staggered school return from June 1st, schools will need to continue to facilitate remote learning, or a hybrid of physical and online classroom experiences, over the coming months.

Experts at Renaissance are urging teachers to adopt a broader suite of online tools that supports both at home and in school learning, and enables them to tailor work to individual ability levels, which in turn will help to more effectively engage students as some form of remote learning becomes the ‘new normal’.

The uptake of new tools and ways of working has clearly been rapidly increasing since the start of the pandemic, with over two-thirds of teachers (68%) saying they have adopted new home learning tools. However, many more pupils and teachers will benefit if the sector sees a wider uptake of personalised online learning and assessment tools and resources.

Online quizzes and assessment have proved the most popular online tool (39%) for teachers to adopt since lockdown began, followed by e-books (31%), while videos and online learning platforms trail at 23%.

To help support teachers, students, and parents to keep the nation reading during school closures and the staggered school return, Renaissance is giving all pupils to ‘Keep Reading’ by offering free access to over 7,000 enhanced digital books and articles from myON and myON News.

Renaissance’s other practice and assessment solutions like Accelerated Reader and Star Reading can help teachers to track, monitor and improve their students’ reading while they are at home. Students can read physical and digital books and complete online comprehension quizzes to test their understanding of the texts, which gives teachers invaluable data they can use to track progress and guide their future learning.

Margaret Allen, Curriculum and Education Specialist at Renaissance, said:  “Education technology can transform pupils’ outcomes. Now, more than ever, we need to work with School, Trust and MAT leaders to help make data and insights easy to find, understand and take action on – not just for assessment but to tailor teaching and planning and to boost student motivation.

We want to help teachers to help their pupils, not add to their workload – our tools are designed to help them stay on top of how their pupils are performing, and encourage their love of learning, wherever they’re doing it.

We’re amazed by how quickly schools are adapting to the new normal and want to do all we can to support them at this challenging time. To help schools get set-up quickly and effectively we provide training with all our products to ensure teachers and students can get the most from online learning and assessment.”

Richard Slade, Headteacher at Plumcroft Primary School, said:When the signal was clear that schools would close due to COVID-19 the challenge was to continue learning at a distance, provide structure and maintain standards for every child, whilst also engaging parents. 

“Using myON has been invaluable and has played a huge part in getting the children engaging with online learning. It allows us to assign projects on an individual, and whole class basis, in an efficient way. The vast range of books caters for so many abilities, not to mention interests so we have been able to offer our children projects that are fun, interesting, and can involve the whole family. 

“Through poetry, art and more formal writing exercises – we can set more creative based tasks using myON projects which works well for both the academic children and those that are harder to reach. What matters most is our students are excited to do their school work – and we’re able to adapt it so it’s the right level for them.

“When we all return to the classroom my long-term hope is that – if we’ve done our job right – we’ll have ensured that a good level of reading engagement has been achieved and sustained, as this is the kind of core activity that enables accesses to the rest of the curriculum.”

Teachers, students, and parents can access over free enhanced 7,000 digital books five daily news articles at

To further support schools and trusts in providing students with uninterrupted access to a full suite of tried-and-tested practice and assessment solutions, Renaissance has created the
Continual Learning and Assessment Solution (CLAS) for MATs at a reduced rate. Find out more at

For more information and further comment please contact Imogen Dunn on 07384525 249 or the team at

About the research

  • Renaissance conducted online research with Primary and Secondary school senior leaders and subject leaders across the UK and Ireland during 15th-23rd April.
  • There were 1,147 respondents to the survey which consisted mainly of Head Teachers (52%), Deputy/Department Heads (28%) and Teachers (9%).

About Renaissance

  • Renaissance exists to ensure all pupils reach their full potential and support teachers to help them do this 
  • Renaissance products are used by over 6,500 schools in the UK and 1.6 million pupils; its products have been used in the UK since 1999.
  • Its products are rooted in research and best practices from education professionals, psychometricians and data scientists – all to help improve outcomes and accelerate learning
  • Renaissance provides research-proven, rigorously developed data, learning and assessment products alongside world-class support and professional development for the teaching progression.
  • o help support teachers, students, and parents to keep the nation reading during school closures and the staggered school return, Renaissance is helping all pupils to ‘Keep Reading’ by offering free access to with over 7,000 enhanced digital books with myON and five daily news articles from myON News. More information at

To further support schools and trusts in providing students