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We've been expanding curriculum choice for years

Knutsford high school is a perfect example of how "personalised learning" is essentially a description of existing educational practice.

The Cheshire school was pioneering greater curriculum choice - one of the five pillars of personalised learning - long before its head, Kevin Hollins, had even heard of the phrase.

Since September 2001, Mr Hollins has adapted the key stage 4 curriculum to allow pupils more individual choice. All pupils take a common core which consists of English, maths, personal and social education, and study and thinking skills.

They can then choose to focus the rest of their studies on either sciences, art and design, humanities, the performing arts, sport, an "occupational" pathway, or a general option that involves a combination of two or three of the above.

Mr Hollins says the innovation has led to a 10 per cent increase in the number of pupils gaining five or more A*-C grade GCSEs.

He is now looking to extend the approach into KS3 as part of the Department for Education and Skills' innovation unit's personalised learning project.

In that case, the pupils'choice is likely to be within, rather than between, subjects. For example, pupils may be given the option to adopt an international curriculum focus, with some subjects studied partly in foreign languages.

But the principle remains the same. "If pupils are given a greater sense of choice, it motivates them and leads to more independent learning," he says.

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