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All pupils are entitled to a broad and balanced curriculum and part of our task is to enable this entitlement to be accessed. Differentiation is the process which enables pupils to achieve their maximum potential by providing learning experiences which are matched to the needs, capabilities and previous learning of individual pupils. This requires careful assessment, flexible planning and the provision of a variety of approaches to learning and teaching. We also see differentiation as a means of identifying the most effective strategies for achieving agreed targets. 


Aims and Objectives

  • To improve the quality of learning and teaching

  • Recognise the variety of individual needs

  • Plan to meet those needs

  • To raise the standards of achievement throughout the school

  • To motivate and coach learners to make progress

  • Provide appropriate learning opportunities

  • To enable the active involvement of pupils in their own learning 

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of activities in order to maximise the achievements of individual pupils.


Differentiating Process

The process is the way new material is presented, the activities in which pupils engage, the questions that are asked, teaching methods and the thinking strategies developed in the pupils.


The process of learning for any pupils is how they will interact with the curriculum content to arrive at personal understanding. Process may be thought of as the thinking processes the pupil employs in that interaction and differentiating process involves encouraging the use of higher-level thinking.


Teachers can make the following modifications to effectively differentiate curriculum process:

  • Higher Levels of Thinking: The methods used should stress use rather than acquisition of information; pupils should apply information to new situations, use it to develop new ideas, evaluate its appropriateness, and use it to develop new pieces of work.

  • Open-Endedness: Activities should include a greater percentage of open activities - those for which there is no predetermined right answer and which stimulate further thinking and investigation.

  • Discovery: Activities should include a greater percentage of situations in which pupils use their inductive reasoning processes to discover patterns, ideas and underlying principles.

  • Evidence of Reasoning: Pupils should be asked to express not only their conclusions but also the reasoning that led to them.

  • Freedom of choice: Pupils should be given freedom to choose, when possible, what to investigate and how to study in order to increase their interest in learning.

  • Pacing and Variety: Rapid pacing, when appropriate, in presenting new material and use of a variety of methods maintains pupils’ interest and accommodates different learning styles.


Differentiating Content

  • Content is the ideas, concepts, descriptive information and facts presented to the pupil in a variety of forms. There are a number of general modifications that can be made to curriculum content to create differentiation.

  • Abstractness: The main focus of discussions, presentations, materials, and study should be on concepts that transfer within and across situations. Facts and concrete information are intended as examples or illustrations of the abstract ideas.

  • Complexity: The abstract ideas presented should be as complex as possible.

  • Variety: Variety means enrichment, inclusion or ideas and content areas not taught in the regular curriculum.

  • Study of Methods: Talented students should study the methods and good practice modelled by teachers.

  • Organization and Economy: Time in school is limited. Therefore, every learning experience should be the most valuable possible. Economy requires organization of content around key concepts or ideas to facilitate transfer of learning, memory, and understanding.

  • Study of People: Talented pupils need to study creative and productive individuals to enhance their potential for learning to deal with their own talents and possible successes.


Teaching and learning strategies – whole class teaching


  • Address the same objective through texts and tasks at varying levels.

  • Use pair or small group work with ability pairings or groupings at times.

  • Expect pupils to articulate rules or patterns to clarify understanding.

  • Have tasks or examples that require higher-order thinking skills.

  • Use differentiated or open-ended questioning.

  • Make a statement and ask for it to be justified.

  • Exploit the power of the follow-up question: ‘What makes you think that?’

  • Have a range of tasks based on the same text or focus.

  • Ask more able pupils to articulate the skills involved in completing particular tasks.


Whole class

  • Use differentiated questions.

  • Differentiate expectations.

  • Prepare questions targeted on particular pupils that reflect their needs.

  • Prime able pupils for contributions that extend the experience of all.

  • Pitch texts just above the independent reading level of the class.

  • Avoid over-exposure of able pupils.

  • Direct questions to individuals to involve able pupils in interactive discussion.

  • Expect able pupils to articulate what has been learned.

  • Give an oral commentary with the more able in mind.

  • Involve pupils in modelling if appropriate.

  • Ask able pupils to articulate explanations and principles.

  • Make it possible for able pupils to enter tasks at a higher point.

  • Use modelling to build the confidence of able pupils.

  • Model problem-solving at different levels.

  • Use the terminology to support meta-cognition.

  • Model only that which able pupils need to know.


Group work

  • Recognise that able pupils are entitled to teacher time.

  • Identify able pupils’ shared needs and group accordingly.

  • Use additional adults productively.

  • Create task-specific groups.

  • Vary group membership.

  • Ensure that there are times when the ablest pupils work together.

  • Ensure that able pupils have the opportunity to follow and to lead.

  • Give able pupils roles in group work that reflect their abilities.

  • Promote self-evaluation.

  • Encourage pupils to set questions, not just to provide answers.

  • Negotiate over objectives, styles of response and criteria for evaluation.

  • Decide together on the objectives to be addressed by able pupils.

  • Discuss possibilities over presentation of work.

  • Allocate challenging roles in group work, for example, chairing the group, taking responsibility for moving discussion forward.

  • Use peer editing or marking.

  • Expect ‘different’ rather than just ‘more’.

  • Help able pupils to contribute to the success of others.

  • Explore possibilities for acceleration.


Independent work

  • Marking should be formative, not just celebratory, and should be focused on specific criteria.

  • Share differentiated success criteria in advance.

  • Encourage self-checking based on prompt sheets for self-analysis.

  • Foster originality, independence and initiative.

  • Set investigative, research-based tasks.

  • Make time for individual feedback.

  • Promote extended reading and writing.

  • Ensure appropriate access to ICT.



  • Expect pupils to offer explanation, not just presentation.

  • Encourage able pupils to take notes for feedback.

  • Allow able pupils a different timescale for feedback, for example via  
    ICT at the end of the week.

  • Focus on the articulation of what has been learnt, using appropriate terminology.

  • Tackle demanding objectives.

  • Instil the habit of reflection on learning.

  • Enable able pupils to work with others of similar ability.



Teachers group pupils in various ways; by comparable ability, by mixed ability, by friendship, by gender, by personality and randomly.  Some use groups for some of the time; others for all of the time.  Some maintain the same groupings; others vary the group according to the task or the subject.  Grouping pupils within the class can enable resources to be shared and can foster social development.  The fact, however, that pupils are seated in groups does not necessarily mean that they are working as a group.  Group work may quickly become counter-productive if teachers try too many groups or have pupils working on too many different activities or subjects simultaneously.


Types of group

  • Ability group (according to the subject, the aspect of the subject, the topic)

  • Mixed ability group

  • Gender group

  • Mixed gender group

  • Friendship group

  • Expert group


Issues to consider

  • Why are the children grouped in a particular way?

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of grouping in different ways   according to gender, ability etc?

  • How do you plan to divide your time between different groups?

  • Are the groups fixed / dynamic?

  • Are the planned groups working effectively?

  • Is the grouping appropriate to the learning intention?

  • Is the grouping appropriate to the activity?

  • How do you prepare for, and manage group work?

  • How do you give the class a clear rationale for why you have decided that working in groups is an appropriate way to do the task and for the selection of group members?

  • How do you know if the groups are working effectively?


Collaborative vs. Co-operative Group Work

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, a helpful distinction can be made:

  • Collaborative Work - work shared by two or more pupils whose design, planning and / or materials etc. are left to the group to decide.

  • Co-operative Work - work shared by two or more pupils where the task and / or resources etc. and possibly the children's roles are specified by the teacher.


Grouping Strategies


One or more children learn or develop a skill, knowledge or understanding and are then required to "pass this learning on" to one or more children.


Paired Tutoring

A "one-stage" version of cascade where a "more advanced" child is paired with a "less advanced" child in order to help develop their learning.



Different groups work on different parts of the same task or on different tasks.  At a given signal, one from each group (the 'envoy') is sent to another group to report on their group's findings or ideas.



Effective for tasks that can be divided up and that focus on sequenced parts, e.g. a study of consecutive paragraphs of a text, or of the stages of a process in science or geography.  Each group is allocated a different part of the task to discuss or investigate, e.g. one paragraph or stage.  At a given signal, each group's findings are passed on in some form to the group studying the next part in the sequence (e.g. orally by one member of each group, or as a diagram or written account provided by the group).  The new group studies and discusses the new information.


Groups in which roles are allocated

For any group work task, children can be allocated, or asked to allocate, particular roles to each member.


Carousel / country dance

Equal numbers of children sit in an inner and outer circle (A and B), facing each other.  Each child in one circle speaks to its partner, e.g. sharing new information, expressing ideas or rehearsing arguments.  At a signal, the children in the other circle take a turn at doing the same while their partners listen.



Children may work individually to start with.  If so, at a signal after a while they are paired together and compare notes, collate their findings or negotiate on their task finding in some way.  At another signal, pairs join into fours and repeat the exercise.  If desired, at another signal, fours join to become eights and repeat. (Turn-taking) and/or negotiation techniques in the groups need to be modelled and practised so that this works effectively).



Especially suited to 'body of knowledge' learning.  Each child within initial groups of 5 or 6 is given a number or a name.  These re-form as groups of children with the same number or name, i.e. as 'expert groups'.  Expert groups are allocated different pieces of research or investigations to undertake (groups may usefully be split into pairs, then the pairs may collate their findings with other pairs in the expert group.)  After this, children return to their initial ('home') groups as the experts in their field and are required to report their findings to these groups.  (They may need support in presenting findings and/or taking turns within home groups.)


Pair swapping

Pairs work together on a task (this task may be the same, or different pairs).  On a signal from the teacher, one from each pair is swapped with another, and required to report on what they have done or to 'add' their learning to that of their new partner in some way. This makes it difficult for unmotivated underachievers to 'coast' through a whole session.  Pair work may also be less threatening than larger group work.


Pupils as teachers

Groups are set up to design interesting ways to deliver various subject based topics – selecting effective ways to resource, research and present their chosen topic. They are given time to produce a variety of teaching packs, including videos, booklets and games which they can present before a class/teachers/parents/invited audiences.


Differentiating the plenary upwards

List 3 things you learnt today:

  • List the 3 most important things you learnt today

  • Compare with a partner and justify your choices/ranking

  • Write 3 top tips/golden rules for…

  • Identify one other text type where these rules apply


Draw a spider diagram showing what you have learnt today

  • Draw a mind-map showing what you have learnt today


Students put questions on post-it notes at lesson start after aims/objectives have been shared by teacher (good base-line exercise)

  • Other students answer questions at the plenary


If lesson aim was set as question, students answer question on whiteboards

  • Set word limit for answer

  • Require key technical vocabulary in answer


Write definitions for 3 new terms learned today

  • Compare with partner and select best, justifying your choices


Show finished class work to partner – judge against criteria provided by teacher (colour coding, +/-)

  • Give each other a level or grade

  • Set each other one target for improvement


Show extract from anonymous student’s work – class identify 2 strengths and 2 weaknesses

  • Give a level/grade against extended criteria


Prediction exercises - what will happen next?

  • Why? Reason? Justify with evidence?


True or false? Relevant or irrelevant? Alike or different? Fact/opinion?

  • Why? Reason? Justify with evidence


Marking and Feedback

Feedback is given to pupils throughout the day and within each lesson, feedback can be either verbal or written. All feedback is directly related to their performance against the learning objective and success criteria identified. It also focuses on the quality of children’s work, celebrates their achievements and gives advice on what the child can do to improve future work. The aim of this feedback is encourage a ‘learning dialogue’ between teacher and pupil.


At Llangyfelach it has been agreed that we deliver Formative feedback in the following way:

  1. Feedback relates to the learning intention and success criteria;

  2. Identification of success is shared and where it has occurred;

  3. Show where and how improvement could take place using, ‘closing the gap’ statements and prompts (see below); 

  4. Target for improvements set;

  5. Allow time for pupils to make improvements; and

  6. Start small – SMART Targets are essential to make the quickest gains!


Examples of differentiated ‘closing the gap’ statements:

  • A reminder prompt:  is most suitable for able children.         

    • ‘Say more about how you feel about this person.’

  • A scaffold prompt: scaffolds the learning for children who need more support than a simple reminder. 

    • ‘Can you describe how this person is a ‘good friend’?’

    • ‘Describe something that happened that showed they are a good friend.’

  • An example prompt: can be extremely successful with all children, but especially with average or below average children. 

    • ‘Choose one of these or your own: “He is a good friend because he never says unkind things about me, or my friend is a friend because he never tells me lies.’”


Differentiation for More Able and Talented Learners

  • Allow MAT students to self direct their learning more often.
  • Enable them to set their own targets.
  • Build in time for thinking and reflection of learning (Metacognition) using high level language.
  • Offer extension in each part of your lesson – from the starter session to the plenary session. 
  • Ensure activities for MAT children ties in with their interests and learning styles.       
  • Develop collaborative learning with Thinking and Problem Solving Skills in all areas of curriculum.
  • Ensure all abilities planned for with extension activity for more able – consider breadth and depth
  • Use of IT is carefully planned and is not seen as add-on – ensure activities relate to objectives and that they enhance the activity or learning.
  • Use a variety of groups to engage
  • Differentiate by Process and Content – By outcome is NOT enough!
  • Only offer challenging work and open ended activities, no requirement to complete all activities (Ladder differentiation is unacceptable and wastes everyones time!)
  • Use LPS Matrix for questioning and planning self directed learning 
  • Use Blooms Taxonomy for prompts and questioning
  • Activate Prior Knowledge and Accredit Prior Knowledge – build on what they know
  • Use mind mapping, concept maps, graphic organisers to demonstrate knowledge and understanding.
  • Apply the LPS AfL strategies and enable pupils to select their preferred or most suitable for the learning.


Differentiation Process


•Higher Levels of Thinking




•Evidence of Reasoning

•Freedom of Choice

•Pacing & Variety


Llangyfelach Primary SLT Workbook Scrutiny, Planning Review & Lesson Observation

Differentiation – What are we looking for?


  • All learners are challenged and supported with differentiated approaches. 

  • Pupils make good, and in many cases, excellent progress, including learners who have difficulties.

  • Insightful teacher awareness at both a planning and responsive stage enables pupils to experience high challenge and to which they respond with enthusiasm. 

  • Precision coaching is always accurate and undertaken at key times for all ability levels.


  • Activities are carefully planned for all groups of learners.

  • A range of differentiated approaches are used. 

  • Teacher is skilled at coaching in a planned manner for whole class and groups of learners.

  • Most learners make good progress.



  • Teacher is developing coaching as a strategy for the whole class and groups.

  • At times, the support is not refined sufficiently; consequently for a few groups progress is inhibited.



  • Teacher does not have a clear understanding of the learners’ individual needs. 

  • Differentiation is usually described as by outcome. 

  • Missed opportunities to recognise the need to coach are evident.

  • Many pupils fail to make sufficient progress.


It is important to acknowledge that this policy informs all subject policies within which further detail on assessment procedures can be found.


This policy was created July 2017 and will be reviewed annually.

Next Review Date:  

July 2022

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Play, Learn and Grow Together

Termly Attendance
  • Whole School 93.2
  • Nursery 90
  • Reception 94.8
  • Year 1 93.8
  • Year 2 91.4
  • Year 3 95.7
  • Year 4 91.9
  • Year 5 92.9
  • Year 6 95.1
House Points
  • Glyndwr 6,449
  • Llewellyn 5,349
  • Caradog 6,392
Look out for information about our LPS Quasquicentennial (125 Years) celebrations coming soon!