Differentiation at Sirius Academy West

At Sirius Academy West we believe that all students in a lesson should be challenged to achieve the same high level objective. We do not adapt our expectations to the background of the pupils or their prior ability. We recognise that pupils may need to take a different journey through the lesson to fulfill this challenging objective and related outcomes. The differentiation we provide in a lesson works to remove barriers to learning to enable all pupils to work towards this challenging goal.

Effective differentiation begins with assessment for learning. Prior to the lesson and towards the beginning of each lesson the prior knowledge of pupils is assessed to identify gaps in knowledge. This information is used to inform planning which aims to address the gaps in knowledge or skills that pupils may have. The gaps in knowledge are addressed to remove these barriers to learning whilst stretch activities are provided to pupils who do not need this support.

During the lesson, planned differentiation is used to support all pupils towards a challenging objective. Once new content is presented to students, a metacognitive approach to presenting a new task will support all pupils in understanding how to complete the task. This should involve modelling of thought processes used when completing a similar task. Pupils will then complete work to demonstrate their learning. Some students will be able to complete this work independently but this may not be appropriate for all. Some students may require a scaffold to support them, over time this scaffold can be removed as students are challenged to move towards independence. A smaller group of students may need more time with the teacher who will explicitly re-teach the content, perhaps using a different approach. The teacher may also offer sentence stems or thought stems to build confidence when completing the task. The teacher may use effective questioning to guide the thought processes of these students in a responsive manner. It is important to remember that assessment each lesson will determine which students are in each of these groups, that ability is not fixed and effort can improve performance in a subject. Differentiation when effective will help all pupils to learn and improve with an aim to developing independence over time.

Effective differentiation is not by the type of task the pupils complete. It should not involve an overly elaborate approach and should avoid developing a number of different worksheets for pupils in lessons. This approach is time consuming, difficult to manage and indicates to some pupils that our expectations are lower for them.

Removing barriers for pupils with additional needs is essential to enable them to make progress in their lessons. All strategies listed on pupils pen portraits should be followed to enable these students to succeed alongside their peers in lessons.

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