Caitlin, as you have a number of students in your classroom with exceptional needs, it is important to differentiate the curriculum to cater for the diversity of needs in your classroom.

The Department of Education and Communities have a number of policies that state that all students should be included in NSW Public School and therefore, teachers must differentiate the learning experiences to cater for the various needs.

Caitlin, in order to differentiate the curriculum, you can:

  • Plan the curriculum for the different levels of ability of your students: Based on the varying levels in the classroom, work with the support staff to plan the curriculum to cater for all the student’s needs.
  • Adapt some aspects of the curriculum to ensure you include all students: Across all Key Learning Areas, some adaptations may need to be made to ensure the students are still achieving the outcomes, even if they need to achieve this in a different way. For example, a student with a physical disability may need the PDHPE syllabus adapted to ensure the learning outcomes are achieved.
  • Plan learning experiences for partial participation if required: If the student is unable to participate in the learning experience fully, include them to participate partially. This may need to be done for students that are only at school for parts of the day.
  • Modify the classroom environment: Make changes in the physical learning environment to ensure that all students can access the room easily as well as view the board, be away from distractions and move around the room when required.


Methods of Adapting Curriculum Content and Presentations



Curriculum Content

  • Streamline the sequences of content
  • Use a different curriculum format
  • Embed a skill in an activity
  • Modify the rate and presentation of the curriculum
  • Make sure that the tasks are developmentally appropriate and not beyond the ability of the student

Presentation Methods

  • Require limited but specific participation by student with additional needs
  • Use alternative materials
  • Use learning centres
  • Use the same activity but targeting different skills
  • Make the presentation of content relevant to the experiences of the learner
  • Provide more time for learning a task
  • Use memory assistance such as charts and checklists where memory of a task is not essential
  • Allow the use of aids such as calculators
  • Use project work, preferably through cooperative learning activities
  • Where possible, use explicit direct teaching of both academic and cognitive skills
  • Use individual learning kits
  • Use discovery learning to encourage mental effort, group work, student language and transfer but be careful not to make activities too unstructured as students with additional needs may become lost in the process.
  • Allow time for students to think through the question and then respond.
  • Involve language skills in lessons and encourage students to use student language.
  • De-emphasise the use of textbooks
  • Modify the assessment requirements to be consistent with teaching approaches
  • Provide structure and be explicit in all assignments
  • Highlight the critical features of the content being presented
  • Make worksheets clear, well spaced and unambiguous, and print in a readable format.

Additional Skills training to assist Curriculum Content Understanding

  • Teach cognitive strategies to encourage self-monitoring problem soling and increased self-reliance
  • Teach structures such as essay writing skills
  • Teach test taking skills
  • Teach general study skills
  • Teach strategic learning or process skills that focus on thinking about, completing and evaluating curriculum tasks.

(Table 4.2 from Foreman 2008, p114)


Further Reading:

Foreman, P 2008, Inclusion in Action, 2nd edn, Cengage Learning, South Melbourne, VIC.

Loveman, T, Depeller J & Harvey, D 2005, Inclusive Education: A Practical Guide to Supporting Diversity in the Classroom, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, NSW.

CAST: Teaching Every Student 

Department of Education and Communities Policies