AMAZING IDEAS IN MEETING THE NEEDS OF MORE ABLE; GIFTED & TALENTED STUDENTS

I have an earlier post on a related topic, which you can access here: 

Gifted And Talented Students: Are Schools Doing Enough To Make Them Realise Their Potential?

More-Able; Gifted & Talented Cohort

Schools in the 21st century have a duty to address a plethora of needs. One of these is the provision and meeting the needs of ALL students. In this post, I am concerned with how schools are trying to meet the needs of More-Able; Gifted & Talented Cohort.

Definitions

A working definition goes as:

More able   Students who have ability beyond the large majority of their peer groups in the school and who subsequently require more challenging teaching and learning opportunities.

Gifted    Students who have academic ability that is significantly above the large majority of their peers in one or more subjects in the statutory school curriculum other than Art, Music, PE or sport.

Talented    Refers to ability in Music, PE or any sport or creative art.

Curriculum Approaches, Strategies And Planning

 

Identifying More Able Students

Most schools have a generic approach which is about . . .

Compiling a Register

Departments should compile a register of more able students to ensure that their needs can be met within and beyond the classroom.  This should be a working document and be shared with all members of the department.

Guidance On Identification

The potential to identify more able students will depend to some extent on the range of learning opportunities offered to the students by the school.  Students can only demonstrate their abilities in those aspects of the wider curriculum that they have the opportunity to experience.

Many more able students display a specific interest for a particular subject or aspect of the curriculum.  While this is not an indicator on its own, absorption in, and enthusiasm for investigation and learning can indicate an aptitude as well as high levels of motivation.

Teachers and others may become aware of students’ particular gifts and talents through a range of ways, including:

  • conversations with parents, carers and the students’ peers, who see them in other learning contexts.
  • observations by teachers, teaching assistants and others.
  • a systematic approach designed to observe students in a range of learning contexts to identify those who demonstrate notable social or leadership skills, aptitudes for problem solving or acute listening skills.
  • students’ responses to the work presented to them, or in discussions about likes and dislikes, or about what enables them to learn best.
  • student tracking.
  • the initiative students take in tackling tasks or adapting conditions to suit particular circumstances.
  • for students for whom English is an additional language, recognition of their aptitudes by those who can speak to them in their mother tongue.
  • the progress teachers judge students to be making in National Curriculum subjects, taking them beyond the levels of attainment expected for their age.
  • students’ performance in National Curriculum and other standardised tests, for example, non-verbal reasoning tests and cognitive ability tests (CATs).

Some Characteristics Of Most Able Students

The following lists have been used in career professional development (CPD) training in schools and have been found to be useful in promoting discussion. It should not be seen as a definitive list of the characteristics of the most able students but as some of the behavioural indicators that might be considered alongside levels of attainment when identifying these students.

It is important to ensure that the full range of the school population is considered when looking to identify more able students. More specifically, schools should check that the students identified as more able are broadly representative of the school’s population as a whole.

Any significant disparity might suggest that some students have been overlooked in the process. Co-ordinators and subject leaders particularly, and teachers generally, will need to be vigilant and guard against the development of stereotypes in perceptions of more able students. These children should be able to:

  • think quickly and accurately.
  • work systematically.
  • generate creative working solutions.
  • work flexibly, processing unfamiliar information and applying knowledge, experience and insight to unfamiliar situations.
  • communicate their thoughts and ideas well.
  • be determined, diligent and interested in uncovering patterns.
  • achieve, or show potential, in a wide range of contexts.
  • be particularly creative.
  • show great sensitivity and empathy.
  • demonstrate particular physical dexterity or skill.
  • make sound judgements.
  • be outstanding leaders or team members.
  • be fascinated by, or passionate about, a particular subject or aspect of the curriculum.
  • demonstrate high levels or attainment across a range of subjects, or within a particular subject or aspects of work.

Identifying Gifted and Talented – Getting Started

The UK’s National Strategies guidance compiled an enabling list on identification of:

MORE ABLE

MOST ABLE

Knows the answers Asks the questions
Is interested Is highly curious
Has good ideas Has wild silly ideas
Works hard Plays about but attains well
Answers the questions Discusses in detail, elaborates
In the “top” group Beyond the group
Listens with interest Shows strong feelings, opinions
Learns with ease Already knows
Enjoys peers Prefers adults
Grasps the meaning Draws inferences
Completes assignments Initiates projects
Is receptive Can be intense
Copies accurately Creates a new design
Enjoys school Enjoys learning
Absorbs information Manipulates information
Technician Inventor
Good memoriser Good guesser
Enjoys straightforward, sequential presentation Thrives on complexity
Is alert Is keenly observant
Is pleased with own learning Can be highly self critical

 How Do You Check Provision For More Able Students?

It has to start with the lead person:

Staffing – The Leading Teacher For G&T

The Leading Teacher in Gifted and Talented education will drive forward the development of a whole-school approach to establishing excellent provision for gifted and talented learners by:

  • further developing expertise in the field of G&T education.
  • acting as an advocate for the needs of gifted and talented students.
  • ensuring that the gifted and talented receive appropriate recognition, support and challenge throughout the school/group of schools.
  • exemplifying effective strategies to use with gifted and talented students in their own professional practice, and providing coaching/peer mentoring support for colleagues.
  • initiating the professional development of colleagues to improve the school’s capacity to personalise learning for gifted and talented students; and
  • accessing a direct communication route to the Leadership Team.

What Should We Monitor?

  1. Each department should regularly review its policy to ensure that it is meeting the needs of the able, gifted and talented students.
  2. There has to be a lead professional (one of the SMT) responsible for gifted and talented education who must have undertaken appropriate professional development.
  3. Once in place the action plan should be regularly monitored to ensure progress.
  4. The quality of teaching and learning of able, gifted and talented students should be monitored through:
  • observations of students during lessons.
  • work sampling, including non-written evidence such as photographs, or journals.
  • moderation of work.
  • scrutiny of planning.
  • tracking of individual student progress.
  • levels of student engagement.

5. Discussions with students will help schools to both monitor and evaluate their provision.

6. Monitoring reports should be presented to the Senior Management Team on the    effectiveness of the department’s policy and procedures (at least annually).

Evaluation

Why should we evaluate?

Evaluation is often seen as something which is imposed on practitioners.  This, therefore, poses the question “What’s in it for me?” Many people would agree that evaluation helps in planning for the future as . . .

  • It helps identify strengths and weaknesses;
  • It should be carried out in parallel with initiatives NOT introduced at a later stage;
  • It identifies weaknesses and suggests more effective strategies;
  • It allows a school to pass on good practice to others.

Evaluation involves analysing available information in order to make judgements.  In making valid judgements, it is useful to compare your findings against any framework that was used before.

You will almost certainly be monitoring test scores to track pupil progress in terms of academic attainment.  It might also be worth considering monitoring pupil engagement, self-confidence and behaviour since activities which you have in place for your able, gifted and talented students will have a positive impact on these as well.  Data from these will help you to evaluate the progress that students are making.

As you monitor your provision you will also be collecting data which will enable you to form judgements on how effective your provision is.  Consider what other systems already exist within the school which might provide you with useful information – student reports, value added data and student attitudinal questionnaires.

Your judgements should be used to identify successful strategies which have a positive impact on learning, including engagement and self-esteem as well as student attainment.  Those judgements can then be used to inform further action through the school improvement plan and to suggest staff training.

School Ethos And Pastoral Care

Schools meet the needs of G&T students through a variety of ways. In your evaluation, it is important that . . .

  • The school sets high expectations, recognises achievement and celebrates the successes of all its students.
  • The school fosters an environment which promotes positive behaviour for learning. Students are listened to and their views taken into account.
  • An ethos of ambition and achievement is agreed and shared by the whole school community.
  • The school identifies and addresses the particular social and emotional needs of gifted and talented students in consultation with students, parents or carers.
  • There is specific support for able underachievers and students from vulnerable backgrounds.
  • The school consistently places equal emphasis on high achievement and emotional well-being.
  • Students use their gifts to benefit other students and the wider community.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!

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