Differentiation in Practice: Classroom tactics for support and challenge

Differentiation in Practice: Classroom tactics for support and challenge

Primary, Secondary
Mar 2013


Number 1 bestselling resource!

Differentiation in Practice: Classroom tactics for support and challenge is a ready-made training resource designed to show busy teachers how to personalise and differentiate learning effectively, in ways that raise standards and close the achievement gap without placing unrealistic demands on your planning time.

This toolkit will help you ensure children can engage with their learning tasks by providing you with manageable strategies that support effective differentiation and help you plan for and support learners who may find it difficult to engage due to learning difficulties or language constraints.


Differentiation in Practice will help you ensure appropriate levels of challenge for all learners by enabling you to:

  • Improve practice by providing strategies to help teachers respond to learning as it unfolds in the classroom
  • Increase teacher confidence with tools to plan effectively for differentiation prior to a lesson
  • Help novice teachers understand  how to respond to pupil learning during lessons and organise themselves to support learning and promote challenge
  • Build on teachers’ existing skills and remind them of the positive impact and importance of support and challenge
  • Help school leaders diagnose areas for improvement in their differentiation practice
  • Support school leaders to lead collaborative professional learning that helps teachers reflect on and develop practice
  • Support pupils to take greater responsibility for assuming the appropriate level of challenge

Why buy an Optimus Education DIY Training resource?

Differentiation In Practice: Classroom tactics for support and challenge is part of the Optimus Education D-I-Y (deliver it yourself) training portfolio. Our D-I-Y training packages provide:

  • value for money – training sessions can be delivered multiple times to different groups of staff
  • comprehensive training materials – detailed training plans, presentations, handouts and a variety of practical activities to engage participants are all provided in the package
  • flexibility – training sessions can be customised with case studies, questions or exercises which are specific to your school’s needs
  • excellent quality – the training materials have been written by experienced trainers with expertise in the topic area; you benefit from their knowledge and guidance
  • measurable outcomes – each package includes ways to monitor effectiveness and learning outcomes.


Summary of contents

The package contains diagnosis and audit tools to help you plan the training, followed by three sessions tailored to the training needs of whole-staff, novice teachers and middle leaders.

  • Enhance learning with effective support and challenge
  • Support  teachers to plan differentiation
  • Offer practical strategies to respond to pupils’ needs
  • Improve practice through ongoing professional development

Session Breakdown

Pre-training – diagnosis and navigation

Learning outcomes:

  • decide on the training sessions best suited to your needs
  • identify strengths to celebrate and share
  • identify priority areas for development or priority groups of teachers
  • ensure training meets your needs and the needs of your staff

Training session 1 – Whole school/ group introduction and overview session

Learning outcomes:

  • understand the benefits of differentiation and the positive impact it can have on learners
  • consider and reflect on current practice
  • identify and plan next steps
  • develop strategies for support and challenge to take away and try in the classroom
  • collaborate with colleagues on application of new strategies

Training session 2 – NQTs or those who may need to revisit differentiation

Learning outcomes:

  • understand the basic principles of support, differentiation and challenge
  • know how to respond to pupil learning during lessons
  • be able to organise yourself to support learning and promote challenge

Training session 3 – Middle leaders

Learning outcomes:

  • audit current practice within your team
  • lead collaborative professional learning to enhance this aspect of practice
  • develop a shared language to talk about differentiation and challenge
  • develop tools to monitor practice and track impact

About the expert

Julie McGrane is Director of Leading Learning (Education) Ltd, a development and research consultancy committed to helping individuals and organisations develop and innovate by making learning their core business. She is the co-author of the popular Optimus Education title, Developing Outstanding Teaching and Learning and has developed her own Challenge and Differentiation Toolkit.

Professor Charles Desforges BSc Lond PhD Lanc (contributor) is an emeritus professor at the University of Exeter. He served on the National Education Research Forum (NERF), which worked to shape national strategy for educational research, and he chaired the NERF research priorities group. He is also a research adviser to various government bodies in the UK and overseas.


  • A4 Ringbinder, c. 80 pages
  • CD-ROM containing PowerPoint presentations and accompanying resources


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