Planning for stretch and challenge: 12 practical ways to enhance your scheme of work

At this time of year, teachers are often planning ahead to the new term. Here are some tips for incorporating stretch and challenge and differentiation into plans for learning/schemes of work.

 Planning for learning

  1. Think up 2 extension questions/tasks for each session and add them to your plan so they can be used by early finishers
  2. When you present information in an auditory way, consider what would be useful visual back up, e.g. a mind map, a list of key words, a picture? Plan how students could create these as they listen to you so they are processing information actively. Strong learners can produce visual summaries of the lesson to show others, as a good extension activity
  3. Think about font size and type for your materials – for visually impaired or dyslexic students, font needs to be 14 as minimum on handouts and should be in a clear, easy to read style such as Century Gothic. If possible, paper should be non-white, i.e. cream, pale yellow or blue. Background to PP slides on screen can be adapted so it is not white either
  4. Look for opportunities to give students choices, e.g. a workshop session with a carrousel of practice exercises to choose from; choices about how to take notes in groupwork; choices about what to focus on in a revision session. Encourage them to develop their skills through their choices
  5. Think about target questions for a mid-session/unit plenary slot so that you check learning before the end; note down questions on your plan. Make sure you include questions that challenge and questions that build confidence and then you can pitch appropriately to individuals on the spot
  6. When planning, ask yourself for each activity How can I challenge or reward early finishers? How can I support slower students who are struggling with this activity?
  7. Think about your management of pace and include some speed activities to give your lessons a varied rhythm. This can help you cover more content in less time and keep learners engaged
  8. Take control of group work set-ups so that you define roles and process for the activity. Think ahead about this while you have some quiet time as poor set-ups for group work can really affect their impact on learning
  9. Incorporate some carousel activities, where people work at tables and move to another table and a new task when they have finished. Tasks can be at different levels of difficulty so choose a few sessions in which this level of preparation is worth your time and effort! Teachers can play a monitoring and feedback role and can define who works where at the start of the session
  10. Consider using incentives for people who finish activities early and to a good standard but don’t use this approach all the time as it fails to recognise effort and only values achievement; think of ways to recognise effort and progress as well. Some teachers use star stickers on work or on a class grid on the wall, for younger learners, and reward good behaviour and effort as well as achievement. Small prizes can work well too

Self study resources

 11.Add one or two links to your plan for learning for each unit so that students have extra resources to read or activities for practice. Make some of them fun and include games to reward early finishers and add variety

12.Sit down with a group of colleagues and add a few activities or resources to a shared area online (Moodle meta-course?) so you all have a bigger bank to draw on. This can be done in a meeting slot in a computer room. One link each could mean you then have 10-20 things to use, depending on team size and doing it now will save a lot of time and effort in the busy autumn term!


This entry was posted in CPD for Teachers, Differentiation, FE, Planning for Learning, Scheme of Work, Stretch and challenge, Teaching and learning and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Planning for stretch and challenge: 12 practical ways to enhance your scheme of work

  1. Sharron Williams says:

    This is very useful Joanne, will share with staff. Thank you. Sharron Williams Senior teacher/Quality Nominee John Ruskin College

  2. Lynda Hammond says:

    Hi Joanne

    Just thought you’d like to know that we held our end of year Learning Fayre on Tuesday and it was a great success. Thank you for all of your help. We are going to continue the experiments for a second year and hope to hold the Fayre for longer next time – at least we left everyone wanting more.


  3. Evelyn Aldous says:

    Yes, very true, we don’t reward students enough in lessons and fast learners deserve a reward or attention.

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