What affects learning & How to meet the needs of individual learners?


A Training Workshop with CCCU


We were invited by Canterbury Christ Church University to host a bespoke workshop for their PGCE course on inclusion, differentiation and methods to achieving these. By this point in their PGCE, trainee teachers had completed their first micro-teach and were preparing for upcoming school placements. 


This blog covers:

  • Differentiation & Inclusion: What are they?
  • Differentiation techniques: Methods of achieving differentiation in your lessons 
  • The student state: How to prepare your student for learning 



Differentiation refers to teaching the same content using a variety of instructional and scaffolding techniques, based on the individual ability of each student in the class. This applies to all students, regardless if they have any additional SEND requirements.

Grouping mixed ability learners together requires effective differentiation for teaching to be 'inclusive' for all. Inclusion refer to meeting very child's values and needs, creating an equal opportunity to access high quality teaching & learning.  In a tutoring framework, this is can be easier to manage as you are already working at an individual level, rather than a group level. 

CONSIDER the following analogy: A football game is happening in the neighbour's garden.

  • Child 1 is tall enough to see over the wall and watch the game
  • Child 2 is too short to see over the wall and needs to stand on a chair in order to watch the game
  • Child 3 requires a step to get onto the chair, in order to join Child 2 and watch the game
  • Child 4 is visually impaired so needs a friend to verbally relay what the players are doing in order to understand the game

Here, the chair, the step and the audio description are the tools for differentiation, which allows all the children to experience the game. In this sense, watching the game has been an inclusive activity, as no one has been left out of penalised for not being tall enough to see over the wall. 



The school you're placed into will keep a detailed record of the learning needs for each student. This information should be made available for you to access either via your register system (eg. 'Sims'), the SENCo, or Departmental Head. If for some reason it's not, be sure to enquire about it. 

You should consider past academic performances, academic reports, their current working grades and expected grade predictions; all of which will influence your planning and the pitch of your lesson. 

As you are likely to be working with small groups, your lesson resources and activities will need to be differentiated around the individual learners needs. 

If you are a tutor, you can make an enquiry through the parent, school or your agency, or set an assessment of your own. 

  • Consult our Level 3 Award in Applied Tutor Training 'PRESET' - Introduction: Making an Initial Assessment 



Alongside Bloom's Taxonomy as a tool for this, teachers can differentiate their instruction in accordance to meet the needs of their learners. The following is adapted from Tomlinson & Imbeau (2010). 

    Match questioning and learning objectives to appropriate tiers of Bloom's Taxonomy for a student's ability. For example lower ability students might be required to 'identify' and 'describe', where as higher ability might be challenged to 'compare' and 'discuss'. Lower level might need this modelled or help from a pro-forma template, where as higher ability students might only need some specific or general interventions. Review their individualised educational programme if they have one.
  • Consult our Level 3 Award in Applied Tutor Training 'PRESET' - Unit 1: Educational Techniques for Bloom's & Scaffolding interventions

    Adapt teaching to fit the students learning style including Visual (imagery, graphics, video); Auditory (oral, listening speaking, mnemonic strategies); Kinaesthetic (modelling, practical work, tactile representation); Read & Write (note taking, reading, writing, essays)
  • Consult our Level 3 Award in Applied Tutor Training 'PRESET' - Unit 2: Psychological Research
    Allow students to demonstrate their mastery using activities that favours their learning style. For example, visual learners can summarise key points in labelled diagram. Kinaesthetic leaners can construct a model that illustrates the key concept. Auditory learners can provide an oral report on the topic, whilst read and write learns could produce a report.
    Facilitate environments where students work most effectively, optimising the physical and psychological elements of learning. For example, create a calm distraction-free environment for students to work solo if they prefer, allow others to participate in pairs or read in a group to discuss the assignments. Consider assigning student who work well together.
  • Consult our Level 3 Award in Applied Tutor Training 'PRESET' - Unit 3: Executive Skills Intervention Methods Toolkit for a full and comprehensive breakdown of these adaptions.

To get unlimited access to the units mentioned in Level 3 Award in Applied Tutor Training 'PRESET', create your training account here



This is similar to behaviour for learning, in the sense that a student has to be receptive to learning, otherwise all your hard work spent differentiating for them will become redundant. 

Is your student ready to receive instruction and learn new material, are they receptive to learning? Identify the benchmark of their current knowledge and aim to pick up from here. Factors that influence this can be external / internal, physical / psychological. A good task will stretch a student from what they already know out of their comfort zone past what they can do independently. Consider varying instruction, altering the task difficulty to match learner readiness, adjust scaffolding, provide tiered / levelled assignments as well as creating a positive & safe space for learning.

  • Consult our Level 3 Award in Applied Tutor Training 'PRESET' - Introduction: Making an Initial Assessment for guidance on how to establish a baseline and interpret this assessment
  • Consult our Level 3 Award in Applied Tutor Training 'PRESET' - Unit 1: Educational Techniques for Scaffolding Interventions & Zone of Proximal Development
  • Consult our Level 3 Award in Applied Tutor Training 'PRESET' - Unit 3: Executive Skills Intervention Methods Toolkit for how to modify internal and external distractions to prepare students for learning
  • Consult our Level 3 Award in Applied Tutor Training 'PRESET' - Unit 4: Good Practice for creating a positive approach to learning

Adapt teaching to resonate with interests of your students and use this 'hook' or metaphors to build upon the existing framework of knowledge they have so the student can draw conclusions between previously learnt information and similar concepts. Consider grouping students based on shared interests or ability. Consider methods of making the material relevant to your audience.

  • Consult our Level 3 Award in Applied Tutor Training 'PRESET' - Unit 2: Psychological Research for methods to achieve deep processing

Learners vary in how they prefer to process content that best suits their needs. Most people prefer a combination of methods, and there are many factors that can impact and individuals learning including environment, cultural influences, visual, auditory, kinaesthetic.


Get unlimited access to the units mentioned in the Level 3 Award in Applied Tutor Training 'PRESET' create your account now

If you'd like more support on tutoring online, you might want to consult our guide which you can download from our blog post here. Lockdown 2.0: Making 'work from home' work for you



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