Strategies to Support More Able Students

What is a more able student?

More able students are identified on SIMS in the Key Stage 2 column as those who have come in as HIGH on entry. A large number of our cohorts are classified as most able on entry to Year 7 and although this varies between year groups as they go through the school, their progress can be affected if we plan to teach ‘to the middle.’ Instead by teaching both to the top and by supporting the bottom, we can ensure that all students in a given class can make good progress.

Sutherland and Stack: Guidelines for addressing the needs of highly able students

According to Sutherland and Stack’s article, challenge for more able students can be provided in the following ways:

  1. Identifying the student’s next steps and creating cognitive dissonance
  2. Injecting elements of novelty and variety into the learning experience
  3. Encouraging metacognition
  4. Offering opportunities for independence and self-direction
  5. Encouraging risk-taking
  6. Providing opportunities to work  with like-minded peers

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Strategies: What could we do?

To build on some of the ideas presented at the most recent INSET a few weeks ago, here is a list of strategies suggested by staff in order to support the more able:

  • Teach to the top and support through middle and lower abilities
  • Give extension tasks to more able students that specifically target analytical skills
  • Ensure that learning objectives are tiered through Bloom’s Taxonomy and that they achieve levels for more able students
  • Encourage talk between different groups of students in the classroom. This will encourage more able students to take on a lead or, in fact, nominate them as Lead Learners
  • Build higher order thinking skills into every lesson
  • Develop seating plans based on ability to encourage inter-ability conversation

Overall, we must ensure that more able students, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, receive specific support to overcome barriers to their learning. There will be nuances relating to subjects and personal teacher preferences as to how this is achieved.