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Closing the Gaps in Learning

Sep 29th 2020

We wanted to share with you this month some of our top tips for supporting pupils who may be struggling. These ideas are designed to be used within the classroom and offer ideas for modifications to your resources and classroom practices.

It is a worrying time for teachers across the country as they seek to close the gaps caused by lost learning as well as ensuring that age related objectives are being taught. Add to that the needs of a wide range of learners and there are a lot of balls to juggle.

Here are some general tips on supporting pupils who may be struggling in the classroom.

  • Make use of pictures, plans and flow charts and encourage alternative ways of recording
  • Colourful mind maps using pictures and symbols can be a great way to record key information; show pupils how to use mind-mapping techniques before writing
  • Provide key word lists and build up concrete reminders of concepts taught, e.g. a ‘When to use inverted commas’ card. If these can be made/personalised by the pupil, all the better!
  • Encourage the use of line trackers, bookmarks and/or coloured overlays as appropriate
  • Keep board work to a minimum – could these pupils have a tabletop copy?
  • Try not to use white as your IWB background colour and photocopy onto buff paper to reduce glare
  • Allow sufficient time for activities and allow extra time for finishing work
  • Have a structured, cumulative, multi-sensory approach to phonics and spelling
  • Limit the amount of handwriting the pupil is expected to do
  • Allow time for the pupil to develop keyboard skills; make maximum use of IT for drafting, editing, publishing
  • Provide lots of opportunities for overlearning
  • Pre-tutoring of the text to allow pupils to have processed the information in the text and become familiar with it. They could be encouraged orally to form some thoughts on it and issues that arise from it so that they can participate in class discussion
  • Allow time for processing of spoken and written language
  • Encourage oral rehearsal prior to writing
  • Discuss and provide main/difficult spellings prior to writing
  • Rehearse previously learned punctuation with pupils prior to writing
  • Teach a fully joined, cursive script
  • Provide detailed writing frames with carefully structured small-step sequenced stages, each of which has been taught
  • Make use of a scribe, in early stages, to note main ideas, vocabulary etc… and to help with sequencing. Gradually shift responsibility for more independent work to the pupil
  • Provide a personal or group ‘tool kit’ which could contain concrete aids which anticipate possible difficulties, e.g. calendar, alphabet strip, spelling resources, word mat, post-it notes, highlighters etc…
  • Practise seeing and feeling time passing by using an analogue clock
  • Encourage the pupil to verbalise what needs to be done, first to the teacher then silently to him/herself
  • Play games to develop visual and auditory memory

Thanks to Sue and her wealth of SEND experience for these ideas. If you are looking for a more long-term solution, check out our new intervention product Pathways to Progress which we are launching ready for use in autumn 2.