At New Mills School and Sixth Form we have an identified cohort of ‘More Able’ students, and this identification is done in a variety of ways. In Year 7, we take into consideration information from previous schools, performance in Cognitive Ability Tests (CATs) and teacher observation. In older year groups, we also look at the progression and attainment of each student in previous academic years. If a student is achieving high grades or are making exceptionally quick progress, they will be identified as more able, and have access to our bespoke opportunities for this cohort.
A student may be identified as being more able in one subject or in a variety of subjects. The identification is done by subject specialist teachers using all of the information described above.
Students identified as ‘More Able’ have demonstrated the potential to be high academic achievers in one or more subject. Because of this, we closely monitor these students’ progress and put into place mentoring and additional enrichment or intervention to ensure they fulfil their potential, achieve the examination results expected, and develop as a whole person. This work is split into three strands:
- Extend: Provision for more able students within lessons
- Enrich: Subject specific opportunities for more able students outside of lessons
- Enhance: Cross-curricular opportunities for more able students
We believe that the more able students need to show resilience, confidence and independence. This means that they themselves need to enjoy taking responsibility for their own learning, overcoming obstacles and working through problems. More able students are expected to take on leadership roles and to be able to self-manage and organise their learning around these roles as well as take advantage of enrich and enhance activities.
Extend: Provision for more able students within lessons
Teachers work with more able students in a variety of ways, but the overall strategy is to ensure that they are sufficiently challenged and stretched in their learning.
Within lessons our expectations of the more able students are extremely high. They may be given extra or different materials to work from, or asked to extend their work and thinking. This is not ‘more of the same’, but instead extension into new areas or higher-level thinking. We encourage more able students to develop the ability to think for themselves and work independently. In this respect, students might be given less support, guidance and structure. The idea of this is not to ignore them, but to enable them to take ownership of their learning and progress to be an independent learner and thinker. More able students will often be asked to lead small groups or answer questions first and at a higher level or in more detail. Taking the lead and teaching others helps students to develop higher levels of thinking. Students are also monitored to ensure they produce work at a standard from the higher years, for example Y10 work for Y8 students.
The chief method available to teachers to challenge students’ thinking is questioning. Questioning is the teacher’s key tool which can be used to develop understanding. Teachers select the questions they use carefully, targeting them at particular students. The types of questions which a more able student might be asked are higher level questions that will require the students apply, evaluate, analyse and assimilate their learning. Teachers aim to help more able students apply the learning to real-life situations and engage them in the application of knowledge and skills to problem solving.
Enrich: Subject specific opportunities for more able students outside of lessons
Students who are part of the more able cohort are targeted to engage with additional extra-curricular activities and enrichment. These activities are organised by all faculties and vary on a year to year basis. They involve clubs, trips and competitions. In the past enrich activities have included theatre trips, artists in residence, trips to sculpture exhibitions, national writing competitions, A*/A lecture visits, national maths challenge participation, visits to university departments for hands on experiences in science and various sporting and musical clubs. Students will be advised of the opportunities within faculties through the year.
Enhance: Cross-curricular opportunities for more able students
Selected students who have been identified as more able are invited to take part in the Enhance Programme. This began with Year 7 and Year 8 students in 2015-16, and has been expanded to include Year 9 students in 2016-17. This group meets weekly and explores various areas of interest. Resources specifically targeted at the more able student are utilised (see links below) and students are encouraged to take the lead in the direction of these sessions. Currently, part of the group are working on Foundation Project Qualifications.
In addition to weekly sessions, the enhance group take part in at least one visit per term to higher education providers, museums, or employers to further develop their understanding and appreciation of how their studies fit with the wider world. The enhance group are also supported in seeking out and taking opportunities to take part in local, national and international competitions in personal areas of interest.
National Association for Able Children in Education
Serendip Studio – Thinking Playground
Ideas worth spreading
Hoagies’ Gifted Education
Amazing Kids Magazine
London Gifted and Talented
In Between the Lines