Picture the scene… December 2014, 4 months into the introduction of the ‘New National Curriculum’, Assessment without Levels etc. Teaching a class full of some keen learners, some not so keen learners, who continued to plod their way through Maths lessons just doing as instructed. A broad range of abilities within the class, so every Maths lesson differentiated to suit every child. This meant on most days a lesson differentiated four ways. On some days, if the lower ability were struggling but the highest ability were flying, this might be six ways. A Year 5 class and, using the new curriculum objectives, finding the correlation and progression to be able to teach the lower end Stage 2 objectives with the higher end Stage 5 objectives.
It felt wrong. The workload of trying to plan for each lesson, the stress of trying to keep on top of the marking, the pressure of trying to assess pupil progress and attainment. Something had to change but nobody could say how or why.
Then came the revelations:
- The new curriculum was organised into Year Groups and not ability stages. Therefore every child in the class should be taught the objectives from within their current year.
- Expectation at the end of the year is that every child will achieve every objective.
If ‘that phone call’ had been received and they had walked into Maths at that time, they would have witnessed only two children being taught the correct curriculum for their age group.
So, step one – every child needed to be learning the same objectives. Without differentiation.
- Differentiation is achieved, not by bringing the curriculum down to the child’s level, but by giving the individual child the support and time to come up to the national expectation.
And so it began, how to create an approach to the teaching and learning of the New Curriculum (Maths, English, and Foundation Subjects) which ensured every child achieved the objectives set out within their Year Group, providing necessary support for the strugglers and the launch pad for the high flyers, and, how to asess the attainment and progress of each child.