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Backwards Planning: What I Got Wrong

Backwards Planning: What I Got Wrong - Aidan Severs Consulting Ltd

Here's the resource that this blog post refers to - you can download it for free below:

In the old iteration of the above planning framework, I had the following prompts in the very last step (step 5):

  • Who are the children who will need extra learning steps prior to the ones outlined above?

  • Who are the children who will need extra learning steps following the ones outlined above (NSFD)?

In all my recent work around providing for pupils with SEND I have realised how mistaken I was in leaving this step until last.

These children and their needs should not be the last thing on our minds - the thing we think about if we have time once we've planned for everyone else - they should be at the forefront of our minds. They should be the children we consider first and foremost.

Our learning sequences and lessons should begin with the aim of getting everyone over the threshold, not just the mythical majority of core or average pupils.

That means that instead of planning and then making something easier, or creating a scaffold, or differentiating in some way, the starting point for us should be to think how would I teach this so that each pupil with SEND can understand this and respond to it? Once you've answered that question you can then probably teach all of the pupils in that way to begin with.

If you've found the best way to teach your pupils with SEND then you've probably just found the best way to teach it.

In the new version of the backwards planning sheet, I've tried to include these considerations right there in steps 1 and 2:

Backwards Planning Step 1 - End of sequence
Backwards Planning Step 2 - Beginning of sequence

There are of course limitations to the above - it is only for planning ahead and doesn't allow for those more dynamic, responsive aspects of teaching such as how you group pupils flexibly from day to day based on assessment. However, what it does provide is a sequence of learning that pupils might move through at different speeds, based on their needs. For example, some pupils may be working on step 2 of the sequence whilst others are working on step 1 still (more on that here: It doesn't allow for all those micro-adaptations you might make based on in-lesson assessment but it does prompt you to think about any misconceptions that might arise so that you can be ready to respond.

Our best chance of meeting the needs of those children who have the greatest needs is by thinking of them first, of ensuring that they aren't the afterthought.

For more on this theme, here are the blog posts which precede this one:

If you would like Aidan to work with your school or organisation, you can get in touch here, or by using the links below:

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Subject Leadership