Significant Signposts from the National AG&T Routemap

13 June, 2013

A focus on able pupils (and a host of other nomenclatures!) has been developing over many years. And still counting! Here’s a selection of what I consider to be some of the key signposts along the route, including the just-published, long-awaited Ofsted ‘landmark’ report from their recent survey on ‘bright pupils’ in non-selective secondary schools.

HMI:  Provision for Very Able Pupils in Maintained Schools (1992)

Evidence suggests that schools which focus sharply on what very able pupils might achieve are likely to be more successful in improving standards of achievement of all pupils generally.

White Paper:  Excellence in Schools (1997)

We want every school and LEA to plan how it will help gifted children.  All schools should seek to create an atmosphere in which to excel is not only acceptable but desirable.

House of Commons Select Committee Report (April 1999)

Due perhaps to an emphasis on raising overall national standards, and an understandable focus too on under-performing children, Britain’s brightest children sometimes get a raw deal.  We must ensure that good minds, and precious assets, are cherished and encouraged, not neglected.

Government Response to the Select Committee Report (July 1999)

The Government expects that schools nationally will respond by giving higher priority to this issue, and targeting Standards Fund School Improvement Grant towards improving the quality of  provision.

Schools Achieving Success :  White Paper   (September 2001)

Too often in the past, the most able have not got the targeted support they need; we want to explore ways of making sure we do better for these pupils

Providing for Gifted & Talented Pupils: OfSTED Report (December 2001)

Whilst additional activities have value when well-planned and managed, the essential need continues to be that schools examine and improve what they do for their high ability pupils through the teaching of the mainstream curriculum, as well as through additional activities. The planning of teaching to increase the pace, breadth and depth of learning for high ability pupils needs to be more deliberate in many schools.

White Paper (October 2005) Gifted and Talented learners

4.21 A tailored education means addressing the needs of the most gifted and talented, just as much as those who are struggling. These children will come from every background ­ children from disadvantaged backgrounds are just as likely to be gifted and talented as those from the middle class, and may need greater support to fulfil their potential 4.22 Despite the progress we have made, we know that some schools and some staff still do not give the needs of these learners sufficient priority. Even where this is a priority schools and teachers an struggle to tailor teaching and learning.

Education White Paper :   (July 2009)

We will now legislate for our Pupil Guarantee to ensure gifted and talented pupils get written confirmation of the extra challenge and support they will receive (Ed Balls speech)

OfSTED Rapid Response Survey on G&T:  (December 2009)

Schools should: focus on matching teaching to the individual needs of all pupils, including gifted and talented pupils; elicit views from and listen more carefully to what pupils say about their learning, and act on the findings; ensure that processes for auditing and evaluating the impact of provision, including enriched curriculum activities, are sufficiently rigorous to inform planning and the improvement of teaching & learning

Policy Exchange : Room at The Top (April 2011)

We need an approach which will recognise and nurture signs of high performance wherever, and whenever, they might occur. There are many more pupils capable of high performance than we currently recognise

Parliament Debate, Nick Gibb: (23 January 2012)

The identification of gifted and talented pupils has always been left to schools. The Government’s approach is to give school leaders greater power and control to drive improvement in their schools so that they have the freedom and flexibility to offer tailored educational opportunities that will ensure that the most academically able children receive appropriate challenge and stretch.

DfE Teachers’ Standards (May 2012)

[Inter alia] : Standard 5: Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils:

have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs; those of high ability; those with English as an additional language; those with disabilities; and be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them.

DfE Website Academically More Able Pupils: (November 2012)

The Government wants to support schools in providing challenging and stretching educational opportunities for all pupils, including the most academically able. 

OfSTED New Framework: (2012/2013)

Outstanding: All teachers have consistently high expectations of all pupils and set challenging tasks that are closely matched to specific learning needs. They build on consistently accurate assessment of pupils’ learning needs and plan astutely to ensure that teaching is very well matched to individual needs

OfSTED Landmark Survey on the Most Able Students in Non-Selective Secondary Schools :  (13th June 2013)

… We need to have the highest expectations of the most able children in non-selective schools, where the great majority are taught. In many schools expectations of most able are too low; school leaders haven’t done enough to create a culture of scholastic excellence …

Have we come full circle since 1992? We need to look at the widest picture possible. I know from past and present work with, in and for schools on the identification of and provision for “able, gifted & talented” in the context of stretch, challenge and opportunity for ALL, that there is an enormous amount of great practice to be seen. Some is publicly celebrated. Much remains unsung. Let’s sing about it, loudly!

It is funny about life: if you refuse to accept anything but the very best you will very often get it. (W. Somerset Maugham)

© 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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