As students up and down the country sit their GCSEs, those who have been tutored may feel prepared to come through the stress of exams.

However employing a tutor is expensive and – however qualified the teacher – far from a perfect solution.

Tassomai, third on our EdTech 50 ranking this year, believes it could have the answer with AI tutor Mai.

“We realised that students and teachers were increasingly taking advantage of generative AI, and there were numerous stories about its misuse – cheating and plagiarism, for example – and inaccuracies,” founder and CEO Murray Morrison tells BusinessCloud.

“We realised that where Tassomai had a huge advantage was that our vast dataset creates the most detailed possible picture of any student and their knowledge base and gaps. By leveraging our data into an AI tutor, we found we were able to make in Mai a compelling, powerful in-app tutor with tremendous capabilities.”

Tassomai was originally designed as a tool designed to help Morrison’s own students master learning through sustained, organised practice. Recent years have seen its platform reach over 500 schools, with students collectively answering more than two billion questions.

Its essential strength is as a robust, impactful method of learning through which any student, regardless of circumstance, improves their knowledge and chances of academic success across 10 different subjects.

Tassomai Ltd – The Learning Program

The power of data

When used by schools – as opposed to private clients – Tassomai provides teachers of Key Stage 3 and 4 students with crucial attainment and intervention data: students participate in daily low-stakes quizzes with material that reinforces factual recall and they receive immediate feedback which also goes to teachers and parents.

The program uses continuous rapid assessment to adapt its style of quizzing to suit every student, differentiating for difficulty and varying spacing and interleaving of content to ensure problem areas get the greater attention they need, while stronger or improving areas get continually refreshed.

Now Mai, its most groundbreaking innovation, has been integrated into the adaptive retrieval practice platform – representing a leap forward in levelling the educational playing field, with the potential to provide personalised AI-powered support to students across the country.

Tassomai - Meet-Mai-image

“While the initial product is relatively simple, we are developing it into something that’s hyper-informed, not only about the content at play and its wider context (i.e. where this question fits into the course and scheme of work) but also about the student’s own profile (i.e. where and when they might have answered similar questions in the past or where they have relevant, established knowledge),” explains Morrison.

“So tuition with Mai – just as with a parent or tutor who knows the student well – can guide a student on a really human level and draw the right answers out of them, from their own knowledge and memory, and then help them to build on that. 

“The result is that Mai stands an amazing chance of replacing conventional tutoring in the near future.”

As well as being far less expensive than a tutor, Mai is also available 24/7 – at the precise moment the student needs them. “This is a huge advantage over conventional tuition where students need to recall, in a scheduled session, something they struggled with days earlier… that is practically impossible,” says Morrison. 

Knowledge base

A huge amount of what goes into making a top grade at GCSE is curriculum knowledge. “That might sound like students have to parrot trivia, but that’s not quite it,” says Morrison. “They do need to know about enzymes and forces (in science), how glaciers work (in Geography) and who Jacob Marley was (in literature)… but what’s left generally falls to the application of that knowledge to problems and the ability to link up pieces of knowledge and understanding from different areas of a subject. 

“Without a good knowledge base in a subject, it’s very hard to achieve a good grade, and it’s very hard to learn in class as you progress through the course. What tech like ours does is not to replace or act as the teacher, but to support good teaching and learning.”

As well as reporting the data picture to parents and teachers, it also ensures students have the right knowledge embedded in their brains and quickly accessible so that they can retrieve information. “This comes down to good practice and instant feedback, where if they show that they don’t know something, we correct that quickly and make sure the correction is practised: this ensures that students can keep up with the subject and that teachers can focus on teaching the new material rather than repeating the same old stuff over and over.”

Morrison adds: “The result is that, year after year, we hear stories from schools whose students have achieved amazing grades because they followed our method.”

EdTech 50 – UK’s most innovative education tech creators for 2024

Stickiness & EdTech 50

Tassomai is now edging towards hitting three million questions per day at peak times.

Morrison acknowledges that as the platform is, in effect, homework for students, many view it as “the enemy”: therefore it works hard to make the app easy to use and rewarding. 

“A surprising number of students love the program as they see how powerful it is; many more get on board with it after a while when they realise that they somehow know lots more in class than they used to,” he adds. 

Tassomai is both a B2B business, working with schools across England and Wales, and a B2C business through direct sales to private subscribing families. It now works with 5000+ teachers and 150,000+ students and their parents each year.

Morrison anticipates its B2C side to continue to grow another 30-40% next year – on top of the 40% growth this year – and growth of 20-25% on the B2B side.

“We try to keep the team lean – we are a bootstrapped company and education funding requires us to be careful with our spending – but we are a team of 25,” he says.

On the firm’s top 3 placing in our innovation ranking, he says: “I was thrilled to learn we’d been included – the EdTech 50 is something I’ve been aware of for years one way or another. To be in the top 5 is just amazing.

“We’ve taken our time over the years and, instead, focused on our product and its efficacy and range of features, our evidence base, and most importantly, developing strong relationships with other educators… that sort of tonal branding side of things is where our marketing team deserve so much credit: it’s much less about being flashy and much more about understanding our customers and working with them. 

“Our growing numbers of users and their engagement is testament to the word-of-mouth recommendations from professionals – the teachers and school leaders.”

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