This section contains resources and links relating to Teacher Standard 5 and ECF Section 5, around adapting (and adaptive) teaching. You can read the detail of the teacher standard and ECF section by expanding the sections below.

Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils

  • know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively
  • have a secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils’ ability to learn, and how best to overcome these
  • demonstrate an awareness of the physical, social and intellectual development of children, and know how to adapt teaching to support pupils’ education at different stages of development 
  • have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs; those of high ability; those with English as an additional language; those with disabilities; and be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them.

From the Department for Education’s Teachers’ Standards

Learn that:

  1. Pupils are likely to learn at different rates and to require different levels and types of support from teachers to succeed.
  2. Seeking to understand pupils’ differences, including their different levels of prior knowledge and potential barriers to learning, is an essential part of teaching.
  3. Adapting teaching in a responsive way, including by providing targeted support to pupils who are struggling, is likely to increase pupil success.
  4. Adaptive teaching is less likely to be valuable if it causes the teacher to artificially create distinct tasks for different groups of pupils or to set lower expectations for particular pupils.
  5. Flexibly grouping pupils within a class to provide more tailored support can be effective, but care should be taken to monitor its impact on engagement and motivation, particularly for low attaining pupils.
  6. There is a common misconception that pupils have distinct and identifiable learning styles. This is not supported by evidence and attempting to tailor lessons to learning styles is unlikely to be beneficial.
  7. Pupils with special educational needs or disabilities are likely to require additional or adapted support; working closely with colleagues, families and pupils to understand barriers and identify effective strategies is essential. 

Learn how to:

Develop an understanding of different pupil needs, by: 

  • Identifying pupils who need new content further broken down.
  • Making use of formative assessment.
  • Working closely with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) and special education professionals and the Designated Safeguarding Lead.
  • Using the SEND Code of Practice, which provides additional guidance on supporting pupils with SEND effectively.

Provide opportunity for all pupils to experience success, by:

  • Adapting lessons, whilst maintaining high expectations for all, so that all pupils have the opportunity to meet expectations.
  • Balancing input of new content so that pupils master important concepts.
  • Making effective use of teaching assistants.

Meet individual needs without creating unnecessary workload, by:

  • Making use of well-designed resources (e.g. textbooks).
  • Planning to connect new content with pupils’ existing knowledge or providing additional pre-teaching if pupils lack critical knowledge.
  • Building in additional practice or removing unnecessary expositions.
  • Reframing questions to provide greater scaffolding or greater stretch.
  • Considering carefully whether intervening within lessons with individuals and small groups would be more efficient and effective than planning different lessons for different groups of pupils.

Group pupils effectively, by:

  • Applying high expectations to all groups, and ensuring all pupils have access to a rich curriculum.
  • Changing groups regularly, avoiding the perception that groups are fixed.
  • Ensuring that any groups based on attainment are subject specific.

From the Department for Education’s Early Career Framework

Early Career Hub resources about adaptive teaching

Other Chartered College resources about adaptive teaching

External links related to adaptive teaching

DfE references list for Early Career Framework Section 5

Resource completion : 5 - Adaptive teaching