Schools are being urged to draw up plans for вЂњpersonalised
learningвЂќ. But what does that mean in the classroom?
By its very nature, personalised learning means different things to
different people. It would not be personal otherwise.
Take one A-level psychology class attempting to fathom the different
parts of the brain. In a personalised learning environment, one group might learn to
differentiate the frontal lobe from the hypothalamus by sketching them out on a rubber
swimming cap worn by one of the class. Another group might choose to create a 3D model
with straws, while a third might find it easier to devise some sort of board game. What is
for sure, says the head teacher of Barnwell School, in Stevenage, Richard
Westergreen-Thorne, they all stand a much better chance of remembering what they have
learned if they have harnessed their imaginations in the process.
At his school, teachers have been using techniques to personalise
learning for some five years. вЂњRather than the teacher saying to the class вЂ“ I want
you to go and learn about the brain, and telling the pupils to go off and make some notes,
they say вЂ“ I want you to understand about the brain and come up with some different ways
of remembering it,вЂќ he explained.
вЂњSome like to learn more visually, some like to be more practical and
some like to sit and study,вЂќ says Mr. Westergreen-Thorne. When pupils arrive at Barnwell
School they are asked to complete a questionnaire which separates them into different
groups of learners. And when they divide up for group work, pupils with similar ways of
understanding are placed together.
вЂњThe principle that we have in school is that teachers should teach
in a range of different ways over a period of time. We are not saying that every single
lesson has to be all-singing, all-dancing. We are not saying that we will be meeting every
childвЂ™s need to the вЂ