Book review – practical suggestions for excellent teaching and more

Posted on 19th March 2018

Clare Jarmy, Bedales Head of Religious Studies & Philosophy and Head of Academic Enrichment, has reviewed The Ultimate Guide to Differentiation by Sue Cowley for the TES.

Clare highlights “more than 90 practical suggestions” and says the book “prompts thought; it asks great questions; it offers ways to implement strategies, useful to the newly qualified teacher and senior leader alike”. “

“The introduction should be compulsory reading for anyone undertaking initial teacher training. It is refreshing for the subtlety of its approach. “We tend to think of differentiation,” Cowley says, “as preparing a variety of worksheets for different learners… but, in reality, it is the subtle, flexible and responsive approaches you use that are the nuts and bolts of everyday differentiation.”

Differentiation is not, she writes, only about differences of ability. Of course, that’s a relevant difference in the classroom, but so are all sorts of other differences. Students have different interests and backgrounds; they might have special educational needs and disability, and English might not be their first language. They might be really mature among their peers, or not so. They might be quick and careless, or slow and methodical. All of these, Cowley says, are relevant in differentiating well.”

Clare concludes: “Cowley’s advice is practical, ambitious but never unrealistic. The deep respect that she has, both for teachers and for students, is palpable in every word. Those new to teaching and, indeed, those who are honing their practice, will be encouraged, and never alienated, along every step of the way.”

Clare’s full review can be read on the TES website.

TES | Clare Jarmy