Greg Ashman

Teacher, head of research and writer at Ballarat Clarendon College


Differentiation: An article of faith

Differentiation is an axiomatic concept for many teachers and teacher educators. Yet the term is poorly defined. Moreover, many practices that sit under the umbrella of differentiation either lack research evidence or, where research evidence is available, it points the other way. Why has the concept of differentiation assumed the role that it has and what does this tell us about the teaching profession and how to move it forward?


Greg Ashman grew up in the UK. In 1997, after studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge, he began training as a teacher at the Institute of Education in London. He went on to teach in three London comprehensive schools and took on roles including head of science, assistant headteacher and deputy headteacher. In 2010 he moved to Ballarat, Australia, with his young family. Since then, he has worked as Head of Mathematics at Ballarat Clarendon College. During this time he has developed an interest in education research and is currently undertaking a PhD in Instructional Design, as well as taking on the role of Head of Research at Clarendon.



July 1: You say you want a revolution

In this session, I will highlight recent calls for radical change to schools and school systems from leading educationalists and orgnisations. I will show that there is nothing new about such calls and explain the rich lineage of these ideas and their antecedents. In particular, I will examine the idea that learning should be a natural process and how this idea informs many calls for reform. I will suggest that education needs improving but that the revolutionary reforms that are often proposed are not consistent with the evidence we have about learning. Instead, I will argue that there are more prosaic means for achieving lasting and powerful improvements.

July 3: Applying the research on explicit instruction in the classroom

After explaining the difference between explicit instruction and other forms of teacher-led instruction, I will outline the varied sources of evidence supporting the use of explicit instruction. In particular, I will focus on some of the finding of research in the field of cognitive load theory. I will explain how I have attempted to apply some of the ideas in my own teaching and by working with teachers in other areas of my school. I will conclude by suggesting that explicit instruction represents a more practical and achievable way of enhancing the quality of teaching than other popular reforms.