Global education group Pearson said strong demand for online learning courses had helped the group to post a 5% rise in underlying revenue growth in the first three months of the year.

The company is repositioning itself as a consumer-facing group offering training and skills for life beyond its core schools and colleges remit, said it continued to expect to deliver revenue and profit growth in 2021.

Trading was boosted by a 25% jump in demand for programmes in its Global Online Learning division, as people around the world enrolled for courses at virtual schools.

"It's been a good start to the year for Pearson, delivering 5% sales growth in the quarter," Pearson chief executive Andy Bird said.

"This is despite a longer period of disruption from Covid-19 in the quarter compared to last year," he added.

Pearson was hit during the pandemic when restrictions forced schools to close and exams to be cancelled, sending its annual profit down by 40%, but boosting demand for online courses.

The group, under new boss Bird, plans to increasingly offer those services to people looking to retrain after the pandemic and wants to work with corporations or workers to provide new skills through their lifetime.