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Personalised learning

Many schools are now familiar with the vision for personalised teaching and learning, defined by Christine Gilbert as:

Taking a highly structured and responsive approach to each child's and young person's learning, in order that all are able to progress, achieve and participate. It means strengthening the link between learning and teaching by engaging pupils – and their parents – as partners in learning.

Teaching and Learning in 2020 Review

Published in January 2007, the Teaching and Learning in 2020 Review describes the hallmarks of personalised learning and made the case for why all schools need to work towards this vision. Personalised learning, tailoring teaching and learning to individual need, is essential in helping children to achieve the best possible progress and outcomes. It is critical in raising standards and narrowing the attainment gaps that exist between different groups of pupils.

At every stage, children and young people need opportunities to grow and develop, with their individual needs met, where necessary, through additional learning support, extended opportunities or by wider children's services. The government has made £1.6 billion available for schools between 2008 and 2011 to spend on the personalisation of learning and special educational needs.

This section of the website highlights key aspects of personalised learning and how they can be put into practice. It also brings together key publications and research. Much of the content is taken directly from Personalised Learning – A Practical Guide which was launched in October 2008 to support schools in implementing personalised learning and helps prioritise their spending. While the personalisation of learning necessarily looks different in every school due to wide variances in local needs, this section describes key aspects of personalised learning that remain constant.

The pedagogy of personalised learning

The pedagogy of personalisation is distinguished by the way it expects all children and young people to reach or exceed national expectations, to fulfil their early promise and develop latent potential. Planning for progression and differentiation are fundamental. High expectations of progress apply equally to children and young people working above, at, or below age-related expectations, including those who have been identified as having special educational needs. There is an expectation of participation, fulfilment and success; and teaching and learning is characterised by ambitious objectives, challenging personal targets, rapid intervention to keep pupils on trajectory and rigorous assessment to check and maintain pupil progress. There are clear plans to support those who are struggling to maintain trajectory.

Personalised Learning – A Practical Guide

Enquiries regarding personalised learning should be sent to personalised.learning@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk.


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