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What does personalisation mean?

Created on 20 April 2010 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 08 April 2013 by ncetm_administrator


What does personalisation look like in practice?

In this Module, you will consider what personalisation means in your school and for you as a mathematics subject leader. You will reflect on how assessment for learning can be used to increase personalisation and increase learning. Finally you will learn about how data can be used to make a difference to the learning of mathematics in your school.

When you have completed this module you will have:

  • reflected on the meaning of personalisation and how it can be used in schools;
  • considered how to use formative assessment effectively;
  • thought about how children can be involved in decisions about their own learning and making improvements in school;
  • explored how data can contribute to teachers’ understanding of how well children are progressing.

In this strand you will consider what personalisation means and how your school can make use of the ideas behind personalisation to enhance children’s mathematical learning.

When you have completed this strand you will:

  • know what personalisation means and what it does not mean;
  • be able to monitor how far the ideas behind personalisation are embedded in your school;
  • understand more about what good differentiation means when learning mathematics;
  • recognise the kinds of learning difficulties that may present at your school and know where to find information about supporting children with additional to typical needs.

What does Personalisation mean?

As defined in the Report of the Teaching and Learning in 2020 Review Group...

"Put simply, personalised learning and teaching means taking a highly structured and responsive approach to each child's and young person's learning, in order that all are able to progress, achieve and participate. It means strengthening the link between learning and teaching by engaging pupils - and their parents - as partners in learning."

iNet and the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust say:

“Personalised learning is the challenge to meet more of the needs of more pupils more fully than has been achieved in the past. It is about ensuring that more pupils achieve their full potential during their school years and are better prepared for lifelong learning. It is concerned with a transformation of education and schooling that is fit for citizens in the 21st century”

Digital education usage models for the classroom of the future, P. Hamilton and E. O’Duffy

“Personalised learning is about tailoring education to ensure that every pupil reaches their full potential ... It is not individualised learning, where children work alone, nor is it pupils being left to their own devices. It means shaping teaching around the different ways children learn.” Digital education usage models for the classroom of the future, P. Hamilton and E. O’Duffy, Intel IT Innovation Centre (UK), Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Virtual Learning. Iassy, Romania: Bucharest, University of Bucharest Publishing House.
Explore the internet for the latest ideas on personalisation, searching using the words personalisation, personalised learning and personalising learning. This guide on the DfE website may be a useful starting point.

Use what you find to answer these questions:
  • what does personalisation actually mean?
  • what are the key ideas about personalisation? 
  • what suggestions are there for how different groups can be helped to learn more effectively?
  • what does it mean to personalise the mathematics curriculum in your school?

Make notes on the answers in your Personal Learning Space.

Remember personalised learning is not about children learning on their own or being labelled and ‘put in boxes’. It is about assuming that all children can learn and make progress if they are given the right help and are encouraged to see that when they try, they are successful. The section on differentiation later in this module will help you think more about this.

How do I know that personalisation is embedded in the practice at my school?

When personalisation is embedded in the school you will be able to see effective practice in many areas. These are called dimensions in writing about personalisation, the dimensions include learning to learn, assessment for learning, teaching and learning, curriculum choice and mentoring and support.

In order to help you to know what to look for to see that personalisation is embedded in the mathematics taught in your school take a look at the National College document Leadership for Personalised Learning (author: John West-Burnham). 

The purpose of this framework is to provide an overview and summary of our current understanding of the issues and implications for leadership of the movement towards personalised learning.

Work with other staff in your school to consider and make notes on how each dimension of personalisation might show itself in classroom teaching in your school. Use this table to help you. 

Involving children in the process of personalisation

Kaye Johnson in her NCSL research report Children’s Voices: Pupil leadership in primary schools says,

If personalising learning is to work, then it requires children and young people to become active partners in their learning.

As with all elements of learning, the more the children are involved in the process the greater will be the educational gains for those children. If personalising learning is to be truly embedded then it must involve a greater focus on the individual and children have to become active in the design of, and the approach to, their learning. Kaye goes on to say,

The growing view of children as competent, active contributors with a right to a say in those matters that affect them, has led many schools to introduce new approaches to pupil participation. Furthermore, published literature and new research continues to show this increased openness to working with children in school improvement has the potential to make schools both more responsive to their needs and more engaging. Arguably this is particularly important in the key area of teaching and learning. In any event, this increased openness to collaborative working will inevitably bring with it a range of exciting opportunities for adults and children alike.

Kaye’s research report provides an overview of pupil participation in school leadership. It describes a range of innovative ways of working in partnership with primary school children and identifies some guiding principles for primary school leaders seeking to promote pupil leadership. The report features case studies of how two schools have put their commitment to pupil participation in school leadership into practice.

To explore some arguments in favour of including pupil voice in school decisions take a look at an article by Professor Jean Rudduck, Pupil voice is here to stay, published by QCDA online.

Download the latest version of Adobe Flash to listen to this resource.

To find out more, watch Pupil Voice (duration 30 minutes) on Teachers TV, part of the series School Matters.

Practical expression of pupil voice could include:

  • becoming involved in planning and designing curriculum experiences;
  • undertaking research into an issue in school e.g. why students are reluctant to take part in some extra-curricular activities;
  • participating in some of the monitoring, reviewing and evaluation procedures.
  • giving staff feedback through lesson observations;
  • undertaking regular satisfaction surveys;
  • collaborating with students in other schools;
  • engaging with the local community.

Reflect on the above ways that the children could express their opinions and influence their learning.

  • which do you feel would add to the school’s knowledge of how to continue to develop the mathematics teaching in your school?
  • which could be introduced straightforwardly in your school?
  • which would you like to see in your school but some preparation would be needed first?
  • which do not seem useful to you in your school?

Reflect on this statement
If personalised learning is to be embedded into a school culture then children have to move from consultation to participation and involvement with the management and leadership of their learning.
What would that mean for your school?

Record your thoughts on this in your Maths Subject Leader folder.






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