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.

Maximising Your Child’s Potential

Posted by Iolanthe Rodman

When a school starts to look at what really works for ‘gifted and talented’ students, the temptation is  to look for a quick fix or a set of requirements which, if implemented, will magically lead to effective provision for able students to attain the highest grades. In reality, schools that are really effective at getting the most out of all their students’ abilities start one step back from this and take as their starting point the purposes of education generally, the role of their school in maximising those abilities and how that relates to the students’ themselves.

Importantly, high achievement is only reached when the right opportunities are in place and when the individual student is confident and motivated enough to respond to them; this should be the case for all students.

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Students are articulate and must be heard

If we are to maximise students’ abilities, we should listen to them discuss their learning. Their have views on their own learning and can help to shape the overall learning offer. This really works when these pupils are at the centre of the learning process taking responsibility for their learning. This is a personalised approach and in sharp contrast to the type of cohort led provision in which students are seen as being a homogeneous group with common needs and common issues. The overall requirements for the cohort which underpin this personalised approach are:

  • Formal recognition of students’ abilities and talents
  • Planned learning opportunities offering high levels of challenge on a daily basis
  • Progress in learning in a way that reflects the stage of learning rather than the age of the pupil
  • Access to enhanced learning opportunities offered outside of normal classroom provision
  • To be seen as a child with social and emotional as well as intellectual needs