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Differentiation: Provision Maps

In a 1996 The Simpsons episode, “You Only Move Twice”, Bart is having difficulty in his new class.

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Instantly, he is removed to a remedial class and quite perceptively states: “Let me get this straight. We’re behind the rest of our class and we’re going to catch up to them by going slower than they are?”

We all know that there are multiple ways to do differentiation but that - and here I quote Tom Sherrington in his "Rescuing Differentiation from the Checklist of Bad Practice" - a wiser and more effective notion of differentiation is that it applies to the level of support and scaffolding learners need to reach common, aspirational learning goals. We're all aiming for the top of the mountain but some of us will need more help and more guidance and more time ( We can all use multiple methods with which to achieve that and should be constantly looking to work flexibly with the students we teach, as each child is unique.

At Putney High School, our superb Learning Enrichment team work tirelessly to create and provide bespoke and tailored provision for each student they work with. One of the team recently conducted some research into this, which used the Graduated Approach:

The CoP suggests the creation of a Provision Map (PM) as useful in developing the GA. Use of a PM can help to provide a detailed overview of specific provisions, that are supplementary to the curriculum and can be used to promote regular discussion of different strategies, facilitating targeted and effective interventions.

With a full awareness of pupil needs, teachers can then differentiate learning more effectively through adapting the pace, tasks, outcomes, resources, and levels of support (Thompson, 2018).

Here is an example:

Sub-sections include: Differentiation by... task, outcome, support, resource/text and pace. Strategies are then suggested for each section.

Putney has taken this idea and created their own to suit the needs and context of our school. So far three departments have completed detailed provision maps and follow up meetings to reflect and evaluate on their effectiveness are scheduled for later this term. The hope is that they will be encouraged across all departments.

For more information and reading, we recommend: