Developing a common understanding of pedagogy is intrinsic to ensuring continuity and progression along all stages of an individual’s learning journey, advises a recent DCSF booklet

Developing a shared understanding and a common language to talk about pedagogy are crucial steps towards transforming teaching and learning to ensure that there is continuity and progression at all stages of the learning journey. The core principles outlined below were developed to be relevant for all learners regardless of age or stage, and are strongly aligned to the expectations of Every Child Matters.

  • Ensure that every learner succeeds: set high expectations.
  • Build on what learners already know: structure and pace teaching so that they can understand what is to be learned, how and why.
  • Make learning of subjects and the curriculum real and vivid.
  • Make learning enjoyable and challenging: stimulate learning through matching teaching techniques and strategies to a range of learning needs.
  • Develop learning skills, thinking skills and personal qualities across the curriculum, inside and outside the classroom.
  • Use assessment for learning to make individuals partners in their learning.

Personalised learning

Personalised learning means that all children and young people, whatever their starting point, are able to fulfil their potential as learners. It involves creating a coherent learning environment where children will experience the range of approaches and opportunities that will enable them to increase their competence as self-motivated learners.

There are three essential and interrelated elements that need to be in place in a small group, classroom, whole school or whole setting for personalised learning to be both effective and successful. Each element has equal importance.

  • How children and young people learn: an understanding of theories of learning, the teaching models they give rise to and how these relate to individuals or groups of learners.
  • What children and young people learn: knowledge about key skills subject concepts, progression within and between subjects and areas of learning.
  • Assessing learners’ achievement and their learning needs: using formative and summative assessment, diagnostic marking, questioning and response to plan next steps in learning and provision.

Inclusion and diversity

The booklet defines inclusion as being about the presence, participation and achievement of children with diverse needs. To ensure that their curriculum is inclusive, schools and settings, and teachers and other practitioners should: set suitable challenges; respond to learners’ diverse needs and overcome potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups.

‘Pedagogy is the act of teaching, and the rationale that supports the actions that teachers take. It is what a teacher needs to know and the range of skills that a teacher needs to use in order to make effective teaching decisions.’

Pedagogy and Personalisation, page 1

Inclusive pedagogy

Planning learning experiences and matching teaching approaches to learning needs is at the heart of personalised learning and is inclusive of all learners.

The booklet notes that research has identified specific approaches supportive to learners with SEN, such as:

  • using access strategies to ensure that difficulty in one area of the curriculum does not hold the learner back in another
  • ensuring the provision of special means of access such as communication systems such as Braille, British sign language or Makaton
  • providing more examples for children and young people with difficulties with cognition and learning, to enable them to apply a concept, more practice in applying the concept, and more opportunities to generalise the concept from one context to another.

Applying the ‘waves’ model

Effective inclusive provision has been summarised in the National Strategies by a ‘waves’ model: a strategic approach to teaching and additional intervention designed to minimise underachievement. The booklet indicates how this model can be extended to incorporate additional challenge for all learners as a strategic approach to developing the broader idea of personalisation.

Wave 1 – Quality first teaching
High-quality inclusive teaching supported by effective whole-school policies and frameworks, clearly targeted on all learners’ needs and prior learning.

This needs to be based in planning and schemes of work that are designed to move all learners from where they are to where they need to be. It means setting a new trajectory for the learning programme to take learners to where they  to be in terms of age-related expectations.

Wave 2 – Wave 1 plus additional, time-limited, tailored intervention support programmes
Wave 2 provision is designed to increase rates of progress and secure learning for groups of learners that puts them back on course to meet or exceed national expectations.

Usually tight, structured programmes of small-group support carefully targeted according to analysis of need, delivered by teachers or teaching assistants with the skills to help learners achieve their learning objectives and closely track progress. This can occur outside (but in addition to) whole-class lessons, or be built into mainstream lessons as part of guided work. Critically, intervention should help apply learning in mainstream lessons and ensure that motivation and progress is sustained.

Wave 3 – Wave 1 plus increasingly individualised programmes, based on independent evidence of what works
Wave 3 aims to accelerate and maximise progress and minimise performance gaps. It may involve support from a specialist teacher, highly trained teaching assistant, or academic mentor delivered one to one or to small groups to support learners towards the achievement of specific targets.

Pedagogy and Personalisation is available online