Able Students

Able Students at Crofton School


When Ofsted produced a report in June 2013 entitled ‘The most able students: are they doing as well as they should in our non-selective secondary schools?’ its purpose was to prompt schools to reflect closely on their practice. The following is a summary of the provision for the most able students at Crofton School. It is our aim for students leaving primary school, securing Level 5 (and even some students with Level 4) in both English and mathematics, to achieve a A* or A grades (a key predictor to success at A level and progression to university).

School leadership:


All Crofton School leaders are committed to a purposeful drive to improve standards for all students and high expectations among most able students, their families and teachers. We believe the term ‘special educational needs’ should be as relevant to the most able as it is to those who require support for their learning difficulties. We aim for our most able students to do as well academically as those from our main economic competitors – in Europe and beyond. This means aiming for A* and A grades or grade 8 or better and not being satisfied with less. Able students are regarded as a significant ‘reportable group’ and the progress of the group is tracked closely.

Early identification:


Effective transition arrangements support the move from primary to secondary school. Early identification of our most able students enables teaching and the curriculum to be adapted and tailored, to meet their needs; and groupings that allow students to be stretched from the very start of secondary school.

Teaching and the curriculum:


Teaching is focused on the needs of the most able, particularly at Key Stage 3. Students must do the hard work and develop the resilience needed to perform at a higher level with more challenging tasks regularly demanded of them. Work is pitched above the ‘middle’ and will extend the most able. Typically, teaching is designed so that able students are given more opportunities to develop their higher order thinking, problem-solving and questioning skills. Able students will not be subjected to unnecessary repetition.


It is our belief that able students prosper best in schools

when they receive consistently high standards of teaching

(Quality First Teaching)

What is Quality First Teaching?

  • Highly focused lesson design with sharp objectives;

  • High demands of student involvement and engagement with their learning;

  • High levels of interaction for all students;

  • Appropriate use of teacher questioning, modelling and explaining;

  • An emphasis on learning through dialogue, with regular opportunities for students to talk both individually and in groups;

  • An expectation that students will accept responsibility for their own learning and work independently;

  • Regular use of encouragement and authentic praise to engage and motivate students


Core values for inclusive able student provision

  • All learners are entitled to be stretched and challenged – high challenge, low threshold (i.e. making high challenge accessible, not exclusive)

  • The most effective able student provision is rooted in good classroom teaching and learning (not beyond it)

  • Teachers should focus on positive learning behaviours (for all learners)

  • Able students will show expertise in a development stage – knowledge, skills and experience for the future (it is not just about past attainment)


Setting - students are often put into discrete sets in many subjects from as early as Year 7. However, when there is no alternative to mixed-ability teaching, our teachers adapt their practice to ensure our brightest students are being challenged. Some school leaders prefer mixed ability teaching for the subjects they manage and they routinely evaluate how well mixed-ability group teaching is challenging the most able students.

Homework - able students are most often provided with appropriate and challenging work to complete independently. They should not be allowed to underachieve or to hand in work which is of a mediocre standard. They are encouraged to read widely.

Courses - the curriculum is designed to give additional opportunities and choices. For example:

KS3 - additional MFL from Year 8, early commencement of several GCSE courses in Year 9.

KS4 - triple science, statistics and FSMQ option, dual linguists course, subject options pathways to support EBacc success and Further/Higher education entry.

Enrichment - All of our extra-curricular activities and clubs provide able, gifted and talented students with further opportunities to progress and for development of their leadership attributes. The Student Leadership Award provides recognition and reward.

How can parents support their able child?

Most young people, especially those recognised as ‘able’, emerge from their teenage years to become active, accomplished adults, despite the surges of rebellion and discontent that seem to be landmarks of adolescence. There are no guaranteed methods to ensure calm waters and pleasant parent-child conversations during the teenage years, but certain awareness’s, attitudes and behaviours work better than others:

  • Accept that wanting to be perceived as just like everyone else is normal
  • Your son or daughter may be intellectually able, but other areas of development might not be quite as developed.
  • Expect your able child to want more freedom and independence than you are prepared to give. Take a holistic approach to their needs and provide cultural, social and creative opportunities to enrich their thinking. Encourage extra-curricular activities in and outside of school
  • Maintain strong links with the school and let your child see that you have good lines of communication with key members of staff
  • Allow natural consequences. For example, if your child has not completed their homework by the deadline you could call the teacher and explain about the hectic pace of your child's life that prevented on-time completion of work . . . but please don't do this. This ‘rescue’ ultimately harms youngsters more than it helps, as it makes them dependent on you in ways that both you and they thought they'd outgrown. Just like any other child, able youngsters need to be allowed to and feel calm with making mistakes too- this builds resilience
  • Promote self-advocacy. Able youngsters need to become their own advocates as soon as they are able to articulate clearly what the problem is and what solutions to the dilemma exist
  • Walk away from impoliteness. Say something like, ‘I don’t believe we’re accomplishing much right now. We’ll discuss this at another time.’ Frustration seldom leads to workable results, so don’t fight your able child when nothing worthwhile is being accomplished. Moodiness does not have a logical base either. Ask your son/daughter to H.A.L.T. when they are feeling especially foul. Ask if they are Hungry, Angry, Lonely and/or Tired. Ask that they take care of those needs before proceeding any further with their day. Not surprisingly, when they do, the moodiness often goes away. An able teenager’s greatest enemy is lack of sleep. Also, allow your child to enjoy simple relaxation pursuits like watching TV programmes that may not be intellectually stimulating. A balanced approach will not harm them
  • Able children need more alone time than you think they do
  • There is a reason your able teenager may have older friends—or wants them. Seldom is this harmful, and more often than not, it can actually help your son or daughter mature in beneficial ways, as an older young person will let the younger ones know when they are acting ‘like kids’. Social modelling is frequently a positive result when younger able teenagers spend time with their older counterparts
  • Time management and organisational skills cannot be taught until they are needed
  • The greater the force, the stronger the resistance. Punishments and contracts seldom work with able teenagers and coercion never does. Honest discussions about the importance of balance in one's life is a great place to begin; planting the seeds of personal responsibility
  • Continue to be a parent able students. They need your love, attention and interest just as much as any other child. Listening helps more than you think it does

Who should parents contact in school?

Parents sometimes need to contact the school: if things are not going well; to seek advice; or to obtain more information in order to better support their child. The following key personnel should be contacted:

  • The subject teacher or subject leader for subject-specific questions
  • The Head of Year for questions relating to student well-being

Able students from disadvantaged backgrounds:

We help students and families to overcome socio-economic and cultural barriers to attending further and higher education. Some of our most able students come from homes where no parent or close relative has either experienced, or expects, progression to university. Using the PPG (pupil premium grant) Crofton School positively discriminates and engages proactively with the parents or carers of these students to tackle this challenge and students are provided with 'enhanced’: curriculum provision; access to cultural and social activity and personalised support.

Ambition beyond school:

We ensure, from early on, that students know what opportunities are open to them and develop the confidence to make the most of these. They need tutoring, guidance and encouragement, as well as a chance to meet other young people who have embraced higher education. Students are shown how to apply to a range of colleges and the most prestigious universities. In PDL lessons, groups of able students follow a bespoke course. Information, support and guidance are provided to those most able students whose family members had not attended university.

Assessment, tracking and targeting:

Close attention is paid to the progress of our most able students. Frequent assessments are differentiated and a range of intervention measures are put in place when underachievement is measured.