Differentiation and inclusion
Conscientious English teachers feel guilty most of the time. The job is never finished to perfection, the demands can never be fully met; schools are places of permanent compromise; and nowhere is this anxiety more pronounced than in the business of differentiation. It’s a matter of common sense that efficient teaching takes account of the varying personalities of those who are learning, but in practical and realistic terms, what are you meant to do? You have twentyeight pupils with twenty-eight reading ages, personal histories, individual needs, learning styles, interests, idiolects, test scores, attitudes and preferences, and some of those have changed since last week. And you have four classes a day. They are all mixed-ability classes, because all classes are mixed-ability classes (children don’t come in ability-batches of twenty-eight); and a good deal of differentiation isn’t just about ability anyway. You need some straightforward and achievable answers to the many complex questions which differentiation asks. And eventually you need a life of your own.