At St Mary’s we passionately believe that all children have the right to make good progress. We ensure that Quality First Teaching, robust assessment systems and inclusion of greater challenges in lessons enable pupils to develop all their aptitudes and abilities.
We identify children who are working above the average level as higher attainers. Previously, these children would have been seen as the pupils achieving a level 3 at Key Stage 1 or Level 5 and 6 at Key Stage 2. Within the new curriculum however, these children may now be described as working at greater depth. The most important aspect of meeting the needs of higher attainers is the day-to-day experience in the classroom. This can be best achieved through a combination of:
· incorporating breadth across the whole curriculum;
· increasing depth within the subject;
· accelerating the pace of learning.
In order to meet their needs, we ensure that children working at greater depth have opportunities to explore the relevant subject areas at a level suitable for them.
In order to meet the needs of higher attaining children we:
Set high expectations for them in lessons
Just as too low a level of expectation results in boredom and is demotivating, so too can unrealistically high levels of challenge produce stress and frustration which, in the long run, can be counter-productive. What is most important is finding a level of expectation that makes the learning experience motivating and challenging. It is in a learning environment that encourages ambitious but realistic expectations, and where there are no fixed ceilings on learning, that more able pupils are most likely to thrive.
Provide them with opportunities for challenge and higher order thinking
It is important to find opportunities to increase the use of the higher order thinking skills which encourage more able pupils to ‘think about their thinking’ and to question their own learning. By explicitly introducing more able pupils to the concept of higher order thinking skills, pupils will see that ‘thinking’ can be taught and learnt, rather than being something that might just happen.
Encourage failure and perseverance
As well as developing their higher order thinking skills, more able pupils also need to develop their ability to persevere. Failure, especially if it is public, is something that more able pupils find difficult to embrace, given they are generally seen to be the ones who always get the right answer, and quickly. However, they need to experience failure so they become aware that, along with success, it is a consequence of exploring different avenues of thinking and there is no disgrace in it. They also need to come to appreciate that there is often no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer.
We carefully track and monitor more able children’s progress in order to ensure they achieve their true potential. If you would like further information on higher attainers you can find this at http://www.nace.co.uk/