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Greater Depth: More Than Harder Tasks


Greater Depth: More Than Harder Tasks - Aidan Severs Consulting

Children working at greater depth in any given subject, or area of a subject, need a challenge. All children need challenging of course, but these ones need a more challenging challenge - a challenge which is appropriate to them.


Of course, you can prepare some more difficult tasks for them - more difficult, that is, than the ones that other children will be tackling. But there is more to it than that... or at least, there should be.


When planning to meet the needs of children working at greater depth we might aim to do it by providing cognitive challenge and developing autonomy by ensuring that cognitive challenge is distinctive, embedded and consistent (this wording was taken from NACE's excellent publication 'Cognitive challenge: principles into practice' which can be yours for £12).


Briefly then, here are a few (this list is not exhaustive) other things to consider when challenging any child who you think is working at greater depth:

  • Carry out forensic formative assessment which identifies exactly which children are working at greater depth in any given subject or area of a subject at any given time. See children as individuals and not as groups, although individuals may become dynamic, ever-changing groups in response to formative assessment. Never assume that because a child is working at greater depth in one aspect of their schooling that they are working at greater depth in other areas.

  • Provide Assessment for Learning opportunities (for all) which truly allow children to be a part of the process. The more that children have ownership of their learning, understanding where they are, where they are going and having a say in how they will get there, the better. You can help and allow children working at GD to become more autonomous than perhaps other children are - self-marking using answer sheets can help children to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie, and remove the burden of checking work from the adults. There is also a role for peers in AfL - think carefully about how you might provide developmental challenges for children working at GD as they work with other children - but don't just rely on them to be mini TAs.

  • Identify exactly how a child working at GD needs to be challenged personally. Some may need your help to develop pace, others may need to work on their problem-solving abilites, yet others may need to develop metacognitive strategies, whilst others may need to develop sustained attention, better memory and retrieval processes or to learn independently with less direct teaching (although children working at GD will still need direct teaching). It may not be the case that they need to learn or do more, but that they need to do the kinds of things they can already do but in more effective, efficient ways. Many of these can be done without the provision of additional, more challenging tasks.

  • Design your lessons flexibly. When designing the format of a session always ask: do all children need to be a part of this part? If the answer is no, which it often will be, ask: what should they be doing, then? Remember that the gradual release of responsibility may be less gradual for children working at GD and allow them to work more independently more quickly than you would allow others. See below for how this might look in reality (remember that the 'groups' A, B and C will be dynamic groups, based on formative assessment):

A class timetbale showing how children working at greater depth can be catered for by planning lessons flexibly

If you'd like to think more about what you provide for children working at greater depth, the following blog posts may also be of interest:





If you would like me to work with you on your greater depth provision, use the contact details on my wesbite, or the link below to get in touch with me:







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