Assisting able, gifted & talented

5 June, 2013

How do staff-other-than-teachers challenge and support your ‘aspiring’ and ‘perspiring’ able, gifted & talented learners?

Effective AG&T Leaders harness the skills, expertise and enthusiasm of their wider school ‘army’. This includes colleagues in the teaching and learning support team.  It spreads the workload and, importantly, enhances the CPD of staff other than teachers, enhancing the consistency of challenge for more able pupils across the school.

The 2012 National Occupational Standards for supporting teaching and learning  include a whole Unit’s emphasis on the importance of ‘support staff’ supporting ‘gifted and talented’ pupils. Unit STL34 is “for those who work with teachers and others to support gifted and talented pupils”.

Here are ten of the Unit’s 13 performance criteria, illustrated with examples of good practice in some of the schools with whom I’ve been working.

P1 establish and maintain a purposeful working environment for the learning activities which is appropriate for, and encourages the full participation of, the pupils.

Illustration: TA responsibility for monitoring ‘visual questioning’ in school displays, including development of a ‘Questionarium’ to focus on higher order questions.

P2 work in partnership with the pupils to make effective use of learning opportunities.

Illustration: School Librarian orders and recommends books, resources, on-line links and research, and leads library-action-research-sessions for AG&T pupils.

P3 give the pupils sufficient and appropriate information, guidance and support to enable them to participate fully in the activities.

Illustration: HLTA supports a pupil with Asperger’s and high levels of intelligence, by offering insights to the teacher to help when setting work, motivating and challenging him as often as required.

P4 use challenging questions to extend pupils’ thinking and engagement with the learning process.

Illustration: TA deployed for 10-15 minutes with each pupil group, with repertoire of higher order questions, some targeted at pupils on the AG&T register and/or highlighted as needing greater challenge.

P5 provide pupils with opportunities to negotiate learning objectives and make decisions about the methods they will use to achieve these.

Illustration: TA challenging pupils when engaged independently in ‘learning menu’ activities.

P6 encourage pupils to collaborate in achieving learning objectives.

Illustration: TA working alongside dual-exceptionality pupils when class is working on ‘text your learning from last lesson’ active starters, displayed on electronic whiteboard.

P7 encourage pupils to reflect on what they have achieved and what could be done next.

P8 recognise and acknowledge pupils’ achievements.

Illustration: TA as ‘learning detective’ with pupils, listening out for creative ideas, which pupils feed back in plenary.

P9 work with the pupils to evaluate the extent to which the learning activities enabled them to meet their learning objectives.

Illustration: HLTA supporting targeted pupils and/or small groups during AfL reflections when pupils respond to ‘where am I now?’, ‘what do I need to do next’, ‘how will I get there’.

P10 seek the pupils’ feedback on ways in which the learning activities could be improved to better meet their needs.

Illustration: HLTA as scribe in pupil voice meetings; TA on Learning Walks with pupils, focus on classroom questioning around the school.

Written by Ann Bridgland

Ann is an experienced independent consultant, providing practical, research-based, bespoke training to help embed sustained school improvement, pupil learning and achievement, quality of teaching and leadership in and across all types of schools. She is known for her provision of do-able advice and practical classroom techniques, her knowledge and understanding of schools and LAs, her responsive flexibility of approach and methodology.

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