So what does Jim Knight mean by personalisation?

Jim Knight This is taken from a 2007 speech by Jim Knight:

“What does personalisation actually mean in practice? 

So far, it’s been one of those ideas where everyone thinks they know what it means, everyone thinks they are already doing it, and everyone means something different. It doesn’t mean individualisation – expecting teachers to teach every child in their class completely differently. Nor is it as simple as different worksheets for different abilities. It’s a common sense approach between those polar opposites.

As the Review says, it means “focussing in a more structured way on each child’s learning in order to enhance progress, achievement and participation.” This is an approach to learning that enables teachers to achieve exactly what they want – the best for every child in their class. This means a change in the way we think about and deliver education. It has implications for the curriculum, for assessment, for the ways that we judge success. It means recognising that all children have individual learning needs – not just those who have particular or special educational needs. It means a more responsive, self-aware culture in the classroom to create a new generation of more independent citizens. Practically, it means actively engaging children in their own learning, helping them to understand what they need to achieve, and what they need to do to meet those goals. The more we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve, the more we hear complaints from universities and employers worried that children can’t think for themselves in the real world.

As the Review emphasises, personalised learning responds to those concerns – recognising that children don’t just need to absorb information. They also need to develop the skills to become independent learners. Take responsibility for their own learning, not relying on teachers to spoon-feed them.”



  1. Angela Deckett

    This is an interesting post. Thank you! I work at the NDCS, a charity that supports deaf children and their families. As you can probably imagine, a lot of this work is around education issues.

    What I found really interesting about your post was the notion that personalisation is not just about working with children with specific special educational needs. Many deaf children are not given statements of special educational needs, as they are quite able to cope in the classroom without additional support. This sometimes creates problems as teachers may then start to think that the deaf child can just be left to get on with it and they don’t need to worry about their needs. This happens mostly with mildly deaf children and children who use cochlear implants (which can make them seem like hearing children to hearing people). Deaf children should have the same chances to develop their own independence, identify their own learning needs and sense of self awareness as hearing children.

    As you say, all children, whether deaf or hearing, with special educational needs or not, should benefit from any real changes made as a result of this dialogue.

  2. supercollider

    The entry is about what Jim Knight thinks about personalisation. The question is whether Jim Knight really wants to review how we “judge success”. His recent defense of SATs has left me with questions about what future there can be when this kind of one size fits all summative assessment is supported.

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