Chiltern Teaching School Hub


These are simple yet effective changes you can make to benefit all students.

1. Adaptive teaching in maths is a responsive way to support students. 

2. Assessment is used to understand how to adapt the teaching to clear up misconceptions.

3. Scaffolding is an effective way to do this. Scaffolding should be a temporary structure that should be removed to allow students to consolidate their learning.


Want to find out more?

References and Links

DfE: Teachers’ Standards, July 2011:


DfE: Early Carer Framework, January 2019:


EEF: Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools, March 2020:


Mould: Assess, adjust, adapt – what does adaptive teaching mean to you? EEF Blog, July 2021:


Prefer to Watch?

Here's a recent video, created by Flora Burt on Adaptive Teaching within Education 

Want to know more?

Why not have a read of  our other blog on the difference between adaptive teaching and differentiation.

You can find it here!


OR have a watch of another Maths specialism video from Shaheen and Shah on Anxiety in Maths. 

Teacher Talk: Adaptive Teaching in Maths

With Santash Freebourne, Maths Specialist Leader in Education for Chiltern Learning Trust

Welcome to our educational blog. Here we explore all things pertinent to education, discuss current topics and provide tips, from research and educational experts, to aid practice.



Adaptive teaching is essential in maths as it allows all learners to meet expectations. It involves effective planning and adjustments to teaching and learning throughout the lesson and is centred around the idea that teachers have high expectations for every pupil. Students learn at different rates and require different levels of support from their teachers, so teachers need to understand the varying levels of need and any barriers to learning. This article will outline what adaptive teaching in maths is, its importance, and provide strategies to help learners excel and achieve in their maths lessons.

Why is Adaptive Teaching Important in Maths Lessons?

Adaptive teaching is essential for providing equitable learning opportunities, giving every child a chance to succeed, and supporting teachers and pupils.

The Research 

Adaptive teaching is when teachers adapt their pedagogy to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils. It requires teachers to know when and how to differentiate appropriately, use approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively, have a secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils' ability to learn, demonstrate an awareness of the physical, social and intellectual development of children, and have a clear understanding of all pupils' needs. 

Section 5 of the Teachers' Standards (DfE, 2011) states that adaptive teaching is essential and will likely increase pupil success. Flexible grouping of pupils within a maths class can be effective, but care should be taken to monitor the impact on engagement and motivation. The ECF states that new maths teachers must understand different pupil needs, provide opportunities for all pupils to experience success, meet individual needs without creating unnecessary workload, and effectively group pupils. Adaptive teaching is the difference between teaching up to 30 different maths lessons simultaneously and teaching the same lesson to all 30 students.

Adaptive teaching promotes high achievement for all, according to the 2015 PISA results. Kirsten Mould explored the practicalities of adaptive instruction in a recent blog for the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). She argued that high-quality teaching is essential for the progress of all pupils and that creating a multitude of differentiated resources is not recommended. A complete understanding of every child is vital in adaptive teaching. It is synonymous with "quality, impactful teaching strategies" in the EEF's guidance for SEN in mainstream schools. However, effective implementation in maths lessons is a challenge.

Key Strategies and Experience from my own Pedagogy 

The success of any adaptive teaching strategy in maths relies on creating a positive learning environment through a targeted teacher or TA support, pre-teaching vocabulary, and effective curriculum planning.

So, what does it look like in practice...?

  • Rephrasing questions or content.
  • Adapting language to ensure all learners understand the content.
  • Providing example answers or WAGOLLs – ‘what a good one looks like.’
  • Highlighting and emboldening key learning points.
  • Prompting learners with keywords, visuals, sound bites or other sensory stimuli.
  • Setting up temporary groups as an additional layer of scaffolding.
  • Gauging group responses to support individual answers.
  • Giving step-by-step instructions for tasks.

Effective adaptive teaching in maths requires careful evaluation and strategies that support progression. Teachers and teaching assistants should have a secure understanding of the elements of high-quality teaching and use them to suit the needs of their learners best. Finally, adaptive teaching strategies should be selected purposefully and used flexibly to ensure the best outcomes for all pupils.

Adaptive Teaching Strategies

Effective communication with pupils and parents/carers can help teachers tailor supportive strategies to individual students based on their needs. Assessment is also essential for adaptive teaching as it helps to steer teaching and learning to improve outcomes.

Formative and summative assessments can be used to inform in-the-moment adaptations and future planning of maths lessons. For example, adaptive teaching may be required if teachers identify a gap in their students' knowledge through a formative assessment strategy (Questioning, mini white bored task). By gaining a snapshot of learners' current understanding, the teacher can then use a range of in-the-moment adaptations to address gaps in knowledge or areas of misunderstanding. Speaking to pupils, making use of assessment outcomes and working closely with colleagues can help ensure that adaptive teaching strategies have a positive impact.


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