chapter  6.1
Providing for Differentiation
WithEve Bearne, Rebecca Kennedy
Pages 14

Differentiation is one of those ‘iceberg’ terms in teaching – what you see on the surface covers something much bigger. But, not only does it have underlying complexities, it is also one of those concepts that teachers assume ‘everyone knows’ the meaning of. The DfE Teachers’ Standards document states that a teacher must ‘adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils’, knowing ‘when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively’ (DfE, 2012: 8). This is all well and good, but there is no clear consensus about what the term means and implies. It is linked in many teachers’ minds with ‘mixed ability teaching’, but there is still considerable debate about what it might look like in the classroom and just what ‘ability’ is. Some place greater emphasis on curriculum provision, whereas others see differentiation as more linked with individual progress. Most recently, differentiation has been linked with narrowing the gaps between the achievements of different groups of learners. The Ofsted common inspection framework points out that inspectors will evaluate, among other things, the extent to which leaders, managers and governors: