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Most Able Students
Most Able students have been defined as those students who have one or more abilities developed to a level significantly ahead of their year group or have the potential to develop these abilities.
Most Able pupils are those who will exceed the expectations for their age group, either in all subjects or just one. The Most Able are a diverse group and their range of attainment will be varied; some do well in statutory national curriculum tests or national qualifications. However, being Most Able covers much more than the ability to succeed in tests and examinations.
We have developed a culture of high expectations for students and teachers so that the quality of curriculum delivery, teaching and assessment in both foundation and core subjects is high. This begins with identification based on Key Stage 2 data (or other data in more recent years), rigorous target setting and careful tracking and intervention.
How does the Academy identify Most Able students on entry to HBAED?
Most Able students comprise around 15-20% of the Academy population. These may be identified on entry by a variety of methods, but typically the process involves triangulation between previous data, current subject attainment, and recommendations from teachers.
Our previous Most Able students are identified on entry to the Academy using information held by primary schools about that student’s learning and achievements in Key Stage 2. We use this information to make sure we provide students with the right level of challenge.
As of 2021-22, for our current Year 7s and Year 8s who are lacking previous data from primary school, we have or will create our Most Able list following students’ first formal Federation assessments in Autumn 1b and data analysis from these in Spring 2a.
In more usual circumstances our Most Able students will be identified on entry by:
- having a Key Stage 2 fine score in maths and English of level 5.4 or above OR
- having a Key Stage 2 score in maths and English of level 5.0 or above if they are a Pupil Premium student OR
- having a CATS test score in the top 10% nationally OR
- showing exceptional attainment in a range of subjects in the first term of Year 7.
From this, Most Able students are identified and placed on the Academy’s Most Able register. We give particular attention to Disadvantaged Most Able students.
We recognise that nationally Most Able students do less well in schools where they are in the minority, Most Able boys do less well than Most Able girls, and Most Able Disadvantaged Students do less well than Most Able non-Disadvantaged students.
How does the Academy continue to review the Most Able list?
The register is reviewed and updated regularly during the academic year, based on hard and soft data. Most Able students are not removed from the list if underperforming, instead additional intervention is agreed for these students. Pupil Premium grant money is allocated for this where students are eligible.
In addition to using data provided by primary schools, Most Able students will be identified over time using:
- Assessment results – such as standard tests, CATs and examination performance externally and internally
- Most Able Coordinator nomination – using data that tracks the performance of students, the Most Able Coordinator will also examine nominations to make sure the correct students are identified and placed on the register.
- Subject identification criteria – reviewed at the start of the year and published to all staff and students
- Subject area nominations – based on relevant assessment profiles using multiple types of quality assessment including teacher assessment
- Parent consultation – we will consider parental nomination and welcome any background, knowledge or evidence of a pupil’s work done at home if appropriate. This information will be cross referenced to performance data and the Academy decision is final.
How do we use Most Able Pupil Premium funding?
‘Narrowing the gap’ between most able and disadvantaged pupils is a key focus within the Harris Federation. HBAED receives a direct grant from the Department for Education for Pupil Premium students generally. This grant increases the opportunities for all Pupil Premium students, including those determined as Most Able. As can be demonstrated through the following budget, funding has been spent on various additional support schemes to help raise the students’ attainment, talents/skills, cultural capital and aspirations.
The Academy has a Pupil Premium Tracker where we log, track and evaluate the interventions that each Pupil Premium student receives to ensure we continue to narrow the gap on all aspects of achievement and attainment.
How has HBAED responded to previous feedback about Most Able?
Our OFSTED report from 2011 set the following target:
“Refine teaching further to ensure even greater progress particularly for gifted and talented (now Most Able) students to explore subjects to even more depth and breadth.”
We believe that this target has been achieved through our exceptional curriculum design:
- Our curriculum is focused on the acquisition of knowledge for all students
- Our curriculum maps build up knowledge over time, clearly benefitting our Most Able students
- Our curriculum ‘teaches from the top’, looking ahead to skills needed at KS5 and taking end points of each stage into account
- Our curriculum has focused assessment points that develop understanding of skills and content
- Our focus on vocabulary and literacy creates learners who are adept at using subject specific language
- The data included below demonstrates excellent Most Able outcomes.
How do we address Most Able within the school curriculum?
Curriculum and Assessment: The foundation of our support for Most Able students is of course our curriculum and the assessment of this. Please see our Curriculum and Assessment policies for further information. But in short, our curriculum is broad, cumulative, and knowledge-based, and our assessment policy is focused, thorough and well-structured. The assessment methodology of Harris Boys’ Academy, East Dulwich comprises a creative and varied, innovative cycle that effectively motivates learning for all students. The variety of assessment will inform curriculum design and pupil intervention strategies, focusing on raising achievement for all and allowing students to gain in knowledge. A personalised assessment and reporting system, in conjunction with excellent teaching that impacts positively on learning and progress, will enable all our pupils to reflect positively on peer, self and teacher assessments and targets for improvement. Most Able students will benefit from our assessment processes and the feedback they contain.
Quality First Teaching: this involves ensuring staff provide effective stretch and challenge in lessons to ensure that our most able students are working with material that allows them to push on the highest and top grades possible. This is not about doing more of the same, but stretching them further, often using Bloom’s Taxonomy to develop higher order thinking and evaluation skills.
Stretch and Challenge: These are activities that are to be integrated within every lesson, no matter the ability of the group. These are tailored by the teacher to enable pupils to access higher order thinking and differentiate clearly throughout the lesson. Most able students are encouraged to attempt these and should be targeted by the teacher to complete the given tasks. These are not designed as extension tasks, however: instead, they should guide the student to develop understanding and express a higher level of intelligence on the subject matter. These are to aid the academic development of the top students within the school, from year 7-13. The quality of these is evaluated regularly through learning walks, MERs, work scrutinies and student observations and forums. Audits have been produced to quantify the quality of strategies employed throughout the academy.
Morning Interventions: Over the course of KS4, students will be placed within a tutor group tailored to their subjects that need the most improvement. These can be adapted termly if recent assessment suggests that progression has been achieved and another subject requires further support. Therefore, all MA and MAPP students in Years 10 and 11 each received hours of extra crucial intervention in a specific subject area that requires improvement.
Other intervention sessions
- Year 10 students have completed non-core subject intervention sessions within the morning tutor time to help develop their subject knowledge for both the PE BTEC exam and other subjects where action has been required.
- In previous years, when Most Able students within Key Stage 3 had been highlighted as having a specific learning need or additional support was invited to undergo a tailored intervention session weekly with the learning support team. The sessions available were reading, writing, oracy, touch typing, etc.: many students had access to multiple support sessions throughout the week.
How do we address Most Able in school subjects academically outside of the school curriculum?
Year 11 Progress sessions: Additional subject support is provided during each school break. Subjects invite pupils to participate in tailored intervention sessions during this time. These are designed in conjunction with relevant data gathered from mock exams and classroom evaluation to support the students’ particular areas of improvement. Pupils are invited to subject specific sessions and allowed to drop in for additional guided revision or support when necessary. These strategies clearly have impact on student attainment as evidenced by sometimes dramatic improvements for some students in grades over the course of Year 11. The students are selected by departments and frequently contain Most Able students.
After School Study Sessions: Compulsory progress sessions take place after school for Year 11. These target relevant students who may be a cause for concern for Progress or Attainment scores, or who simply wish to attain the highest possible grades. The students are selected by departments and frequently contain Most Able students.
What extra-curricular opportunities and events are available for Most Able students?
The following programmes have been set up and are running this year or have run prior to Covid and are in the process of being set up again.
Kings College London University Project - the Academy is working in partnership with Kings College University to carry out an ongoing project called "M2 SPED Awareness" that hosts a prizewinning opportunity for year 10 and year 12 most able students. 20 year 10 pupils and a voluntary amount of year 12 pupils were involved within the sessions. The discussion will be surrounding special educational differences (dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism etc.) and will aim to develop critical thinking and debating abilities in students. The university will also organise career-oriented sessions in where students will receive a taster of skills and basic theories learnt in healthcare degrees.
The Whole Shebang! - This is an ongoing writing project for the Academy newspaper, aimed at giving additional challenges and support when writing, editing and publishing articles for the school newspaper. Currently this has been expanded to accommodate both Harris Garrard Academy.
The Harris Experience (Year 9-11) - This new Federation-wide project broadens the cultural opportunities of some of our most able Year 9 students, including by giving them access to teachers/lecturers who can stretch them beyond the current limits of their curriculum. The programme incorporates lectures on art appreciation, trips to concerts, theatres, art galleries and museums, master classes on challenging extra-curricular topics and careers advice. Ultimately it is designed to prepare students for applications to elite universities.
Harris Experience Masterclasses - These sessions have run regularly for each year group. A masterclass workshop was created to building critical higher order thinking on related topics. This was predominantly aimed at the 32 Harris Experience students of Most Able and Disadvantaged Most Able students, however these were open and invite sessions for KS3 and 4. These allowed the students to access A Level and university level material with support of a subject specialist staff member, to guide higher order critical thinking.
Speak Out Challenge - This is a one-day workshop in school from the Jack Petchey Foundation. The workshop finishes at the end of the school day with every student delivering a speech they have created from scratch to their classmates and a small panel of judges, usually a couple of teachers, who select top-quality speeches. 20 pupils were invited to complete this, targeted to help develop their oracy, communicative or construction of an informative speech or offering an opportunity for pupils to have a platform to project their own opinions on current matters.
ST-13 (Year 11) - This new scheme is designed to prepare selected Year 11 students within our Most Able Core for applications to elite universities. Students gain access to weekly Oxbridge-style tutorials or readings on extracurricular topics within subject specific interests, led by Oxbridge. The group attends occasional cultural events.
The East Dulwich Experience - This programme has been designed to offer more opportunities to those pupils looking at applying for Russell Group Universities to develop a love of learning and interest outside the classroom. Universities including Oxford and Cambridge have highlighted that additional access to learning experiences outside of the classroom is a key aspect in successful candidate’s applications that stands them above others. The academy has therefore designed a programme to include various extra-curricular opportunities throughout the week across each department, internal lectures and trips that will see our most able students benefit from while at the academy. As part of the East Dulwich Experience, the Academy has made a 5-year pledge to ensure that every most able pupil will be given the opportunity to visit a top university, be taken on at least one cultural trip, alongside having access to the Stretch and Challenge extra-curricular programme. This is to enhance their experiences while at Harris Boy’s Academy East Dulwich and prepare them for further education.
Stretch and Challenge Extra-Curricular Clubs - These are sessions run by teachers outside of lesson time to offer pupils opportunities to access additional content or extend their interest in a particular subject. Particular clubs that have an ‘S&C’ symbol will enable participants to access a higher order thinking element or critical analysis part. There are a lot of new extra-curricular clubs – please see the relevant website page for a full list of these. These clubs are building participation and starting to target Most Able pupils to attend to develop their progress and extra-curricular interests.
Extra-curricular and Sports Clubs – the academic year 2021-22 has lots of clubs running. All extra-curricular clubs are on open invite to all pupils.
- Sports: With many involved within Federation Cup, South London Cup or Southwark League for football, basketball competitions across London and the hockey, badminton and table tennis matches set up with local schools.
- Academic / Further interest: clubs running this year include Chess, Science, Debating and many others.
- Russell Group (Year 11). This new scheme is designed to prepare Year 11 students within our Most Able Core for applications to elite universities. Students attend weekly Oxbridge-style tutorials on extracurricular topics within the history of ideas, led by two Oxbridge alumni on our staff. The group attends occasional cultural events.
- The Brilliant Club (Year 10) – 12 arts and humanities students will be mentored through an assignment by a PhD research student in half term 2b.
- The Brilliant Club (Year 9) – 12 maths and science students will be mentored through an assignment by a PhD research student in half term 2b.
- Maths mentoring (Years 7 and 9). Currently we are launching a scheme which will see some of our most able Year 9 students providing academic mentoring in maths to some of our ablest Year 7 students. Mentors will meet mentees on a fortnightly basis to set them challenging maths problems.
- Various Federation Competitions such as Battle of the Brains, Debating competitions and Spelling Bees.
- Various Leadership roles within the school.
How do staff identify Most Able students, and what training do we offer staff in Most Able?
- All staff receive regular Most Able reminders about the lists of students who are Most Able, either to address them specifically in class or to re-evaluate involvement.
- All staff are instructed to place Most Able stickers on exercise books so that they are aware of the student’s designation.
- Most Able students are recorded on Bromcom. Seating plans developed from Bromcom can have the designation visible.
Staff CPD and Ensuring Best Practice:
There has been a significant drive for Continued Professional Development with the Federation and Academy with their understanding of Most Able. The development of staff knowledge and application surrounding how to plan activities and deliver lessons for Most Able students have been offered to staff in various forms.
- We have had sessions run by experts in the field during conferences, training days and through seminars.
- At a Federation level, seminars such as 'Stretch and Challenge within the Classroom', 'How to develop highest achievers at A level', and 'What is the meaning of Most Able?', have been employed to better the understanding of staff in order to benefit the quality of teaching and learning for students.â¯
- In 2020-21 the Academy had Most Able Identification and Stretch and Challenge sessions for the trainee teachers on School Direct and PGCE placements.
- Whole school Most Able CPD helped all teaching staff with strategies for Most Able.
- Teach meets and research projects on this topic area also took place.
- This has been followed up with regular quality assurance measures such as observations, work scrutinies, book looks and learning walks. Audits have been carried out on a regular basis, with feedback given to action.
What impact does our Most Able support have on HBAED’s outcomes?
Click HERE for full details of the impact of our Most Able programme on the Academy's outcomes.
Who are the Most Able team and how can a parent get in touch?
- Our lead for Most Able is Jonathan Maserejje
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Oversight of Most Able is provided by Martin Pugh, Assistant Principal
- Email: email@example.com
Further documents and policies relating to our support for other groups of students can be downloaded from our Equalities and Additional Intervention page.