Curriculum differentiation can be defined very simply and that is; To be given equal opportunities in the learning environment.
Each individual should have the chance to develop and expand their knowledge to the best of their ability, and be given the chance to make the best use of their talents and capabilities as possible.
With this ethos in mind the general curriculum will be expanded and streamlined to make extra provision for the pupils that are going to need extra help because they have special learning needs or certain disabilities.
Curricular differentiation will be applied by using lesson planning, the equal opportunity program, health and safety regulations, and child protection law.
This means that every young person or child has a right to be taught in a safe, comfortable, friendly and mentally stimulating environment.
Learning mentors, teaching assistants and special needs coordinators all play a vital part in maintaining an equilibrium in the learning environment, and will inform planning to adjust the level of care or support given often forming the frontline in the humanist battle against inequality, prejudice and discrimination.
Formal and informal observation, work and behavior assessment will be used to establish the learning levels of a child and their abilities in relation to their age and individual needs.
Special learning needs can vary and may include children who have learning difficulties or children who have simply moved to a new school from a different area or even a different country.
Each case is assessed on its own merits, and strategies are put into place depending on the level of support needed. This may include extra support within the classroom, or through a special learning program that can be delivered within mainstream school or in a separate learning unit. This will consist of support strategies, learning incentives, use of resources and different methods of effective communication.
For example, special needs may include children who are blind or deaf or who may have speech difficulties. Their learning programs will be tailored to take these disabilities into consideration. A deaf child may be given a 1:1 support T.A. who can ‘sign’ the lessons to him, or extra resources may be used – such as a hearing loop. A child with speech difficulties may simply need a little extra ‘thinking’ and ‘talking’ time and this is something that can be accommodated within lesson planning and social development activities.
By its very nature, curriculum differentiation is a flexible and evolving system, and if it can be implemented in a timely fashion within schools, vulnerable pupils will benefit greatly and their more able peers will learn valuable lessons in positive social interaction consideration towards others.