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).
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.
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.