What specific curriculum area, subject or aspect did you intend to have impact on?
- All aspects
- All subjects
How did you intend to impact on pupil learning?
We began by developing the will to extend pupil horizons and to encourage pupils to realise that the sky was the limit, provided that they worked hard. We began by establishing a G&T register after pouring over a great deal of KS2 data, both qualitative and quantitative. We began by explicitly expressing our goals from the outset. Within these aims, we met with and talked with parents/carers and staff to set out our future goals. Listed below is a range of actions taken to impact on learning.
- Inform pupils they were on the G&T register and why; inform parents/carers
- Make explicit the expectations of entry scores to pupils, staff, parents
- Exploit ways to provide out of classroom learning, especially those in which pupils competed with G&T pupils from other schools, including grammar schools
- Provide opportunities to compete in challenges with G&T boys. (In a single sex, non-selective school we wished to reduce gender stereotyping)
- Provide cross- school and in-school competitive challenges involving cross-curricular skills such as problem-solving, effective team-work, effective communication, mostly verbal, public speaking, interaction with a range of adults beyond home and school
- Increase pupil motivation and achievement towards higher KS3 levels/ GCSE grades and eventually A level, HE if appropriate and desired by students
- Staff inclusion and training: provide internal and fund some external training for staff specifically in G&T
- Instil the notion that high staff expectation amongst G&T learners was the responsibility of all staff, not just one or two although initially it was just that, the brief of one
- Encourage high-level teaching across the school with particular reference to the top sets
What were your success criteria?
Defined success criteria were not established initially as a finite goal in terms of numbers of pupils raising attainment levels partially or wholly; however, whenever NC levels came up, or indeed entry to HE, as a school management team we were clear about our aims. What was required was a medium and long term plan to embed G&T in all aspects of the school curriculum and to use every extra curricular opportunity that we could afford, to enhance the G&T provision. The two-prong, simultaneous programme worked well even though as a school we had no budget at all for G&T. Some success criteria are listed below:
- Evidence of pupil enthusiasm to be on the register, to participate in G&T events, to share their experience with peers, staff, parents and governors
- Evidence of departmental planning to include G&T; evidence of some budgetary expenditure over two years(Two years were allowed as department heads could not be rushed into planning for G&T in the early days.)
- Evidence of reference to G&T in departmental meeting accounts; (departmental screening and monitoring of G&T did not happen quickly but took several years to embed. It is something that needs to be revisited regularly. For a time the author chose to provide detailed analyses of G&T pupil attainment in end-of-year exams, for example, to present to Heads of Department for perusal and action.)
- Accounts of G&T events for inclusion in reports to the Governing Body, for example, attendance at dance events, sports events, art competitions, academic prowess
- Evidence of G&T attendance and behaviour
- Liaison with pupils and parents/carers
- Participation by the G&T cohort in the programme of events
- Evidence of G&T motivation in class and in home study
- End of key stage evidence of reaching or surpassing expected levels and of the same at GCSE
- Fund raising
In order to support events, the author and committed colleagues, parents and pupils chose to undertake fund-raising and that was a whole, other area of work that went on for some years - we were greatly helped by committed and skilled parents and we formed a committee for G&T. The committee of parents and staff agreed at the end of each year to carry any funds forward to assist with the next year's programme. For example, whilst attendance at the university summer schools was desirable, it could not be part of our success criteria as some students could not afford the costs. With fund raising ourselves, we managed to cover rail or even coach fares and went some way to covering the costs of the residential accommodation. No pressure was put on parents or students to attend any event involving costs, but somehow, through sponsored events, boot fairs, school quizzes organised by the school publicity committee, we managed to raise funds having been unsuccessful in attracting funding for our ventures through more conventional means. I mention fund raising because, for us, it was essential to the overall achievement of our success.
Change in the school culture can be attributed to a large extent to the pupils themselves. They attended school functions, they had a stand and spoke to other students and parents about their university residential experience. They became the spokespeople.
Success criteria were gradually honed. With regard to staff, their attendance at the LEA organised G&T twilights became a 'must' as far as possible, monitoring of the attendance of the G&T cohort was regularly undertaken, administrative help built up to assist with notifying parents of G&T events through the school web-site and VLE. All these additional areas became part of our success criteria. Staff training did not solely include teaching staff. Under the duress of having insufficient time and plenty of other areas of responsibility the author chose to lead two administrative staff into the management of G&T. Together we built up systems for monitoring G&T pupils and for informing parents of the programme.
What information or data did you use to measure progress towards your success criteria?
- CVA data
- Data comparison of cohorts
- Periodic teacher assessment
- Test results
What did you do? What teaching approaches (pedagogy) did you use to achieve the intended impact?
- Assessment for Learning (AfL)
- Self assessment and peer assessment
- Use of pupil talk for whole-class teaching
Describe the teaching approaches you used
Developing practice and opportunities for G&T pupils
The English, maths and science departments have taken the lead in using AfL in lessons to engage pupils more in their own learning and help them understand how to improve. Pupils often reflect with their peers on what has been achieved and how greater progress can be made towards their targets. The three departments are sharing their expertise with others and have provided training sessions and exemplars for staff. Other faculties share their experiences with staff as they look to create a more stimulating learning environment through the use of technology.
Pupils are stretched and are able to develop their talents, independent learning and leadership skills through a wide range of challenges, competitions and events, such as designing and building a 'Barracks', creating the most stream-lined carrot to go furthest using a rocket cannon and coaching and judging at local sporting events. Pupils from Year 11 to Year 13 have formed their own 'Gallery Club'; to pursue their enjoyment of art, deciding which galleries to visit and the theme of the visit.
The peer mentoring system in the school is being extended with Year 12 and Year 13 pupils being coached to mentor younger G&T pupils and the next step has been to bring back undergraduates to challenge the aspirations of KS5 pupils
Initially it was important to instil the notion of success after perceived failure at 11 whilst at the same time to counteract a preponderance of emphasis on Special Educational Needs for much of the school population. Identification of a G&T cohort was established and embedded in school policy. Cross-phase discussion took place, (KS2 - 3), parents/carers were informed that their child was on the G&T register, the G&T cohort became part of school staff meetings and staff training sessions on a regular basis; slowly and gradually a G&T momentum was built. At this stage in the late 1990s Additional Educational Needs (AEN) was not part of the national vocabulary; therefore impact on pupil learning was geared towards getting the pupils out of school to participate in problem-solving opportunities with other schools including grammar schools. Some of these opportunities were organised by the Medway Education and Business Partnership. Events included competitive opportunities such as how to build a shelter and survive in an area affected by hurricane and flooding. Maths and technology skills as well as group communication were key to success.
Residential trips to university summer schools took place on an annual basis, specifically for more able pupils from years 9 - 11, through the Hi-Pact Scheme, initially. Pupils lived in halls for five days and interacted with young people from all over the country, attending cross-school sessions and participating in competitive group work, keeping a diary of the experience. Social interaction with the unknown, travel by train and sometimes tube, forming friendships beyond 'my street,' wanting to go to university, all had a tangible impact back in the classroom and more particularly, in the school. With the demise of the Hi-Pact scheme we managed to forge our own links with local universities, assisted with the advent of Aim Higher as the years progressed.
Whilst there was a particular emphasis on English, maths and science, all other department initiatives were welcomed. Dance and art competitions were organised, events incorporating music and drama. English developed its strength to launch the Literacy and Library Times, poetry and public competitions. What distinguished such events in this school was that the gifted and talented pupils in PE, sport, maths, science, English, art, music, technology were actively encouraged to participate and were supported.
Staff training opportunities were key to the impact on pupil learning. The LEA provided invaluable support through the G&T Strategy Group, which met termly, and through the G&T Twilight sessions which were organised termly and that incorporated a range of departmental and cross-phase interest. Staff attending such meetings reported back, thus enabling G&T to become part of most internal meetings.
Assessment for Learning and literacy were useful tools for forwarding G&T in this school. We were aware that many of our G&T pupils lacked confidence in speaking skills: that is to say, they were reticent to use standard English in lessons and to enhance writing. Therefore AfL, particularly in speaking, became part of the School Development Plan for two years. Peer assessment was incorporated into the aim of improved speaking and writing. The Literacy Co-ordinator led staff development sessions to outline new procedures and each department appointed a member to liaise with regard to literacy. Speaking and writing results improved as witnessed by the outstanding early English entry results. Improving literacy in an on-going aim across all departments.
Far more quickly than we might have expected, G&T took on its own momentum and became a feature of each year's planning. Sheer interest in the programme of activities, willingness to participate even in the residential visits, talk afterwards in class and at social times, these were the drivers initially. At the same time, regular staff INSET sessions took place. As pupil experiences were shared with the whole staff, gradually the notion of AEN became embedded as departments catered for the most able and more able in their SOW; learning outcomes, distinct additional activities and materials were budgeted for within the financial constraints; staff were excited by the prospect of catering for the more able and, whilst initially there may have been concerns that adverse peer pressure might have been a consideration, such concerns proved groundless or so insignificant as to be negated by the achievement of many. There was also a real element of fun. To hear their peers speak about events they had attended, along with some of the pitfalls, convinced the upper ability school population that such learning could be enjoyable.
Establishment of the annual formal monitoring of pupil achievement became embedded in school systems, as did the extension of AfL in all lessons. Termly, GT pupil progress is monitored by the co-ordinator and PPM, whilst annually, there is a thirty-minute meeting, at least, with every pupil on the GT register, and to which parents/carers are invited. This is in addition to Parents' Evenings. These sessions are invaluable in sharing with parents/carers the achievements of the young people or of revisiting potential and comparing shortfall. Most importantly, the personal contact established during the meetings provides not only a clear view of the life of the young person at home, opportunities and facilities available, but also a clear, personalised agenda for the next academic year. Therefore, in the light of changing family circumstances, we could alert the AEN Co-ordinator, and, with parental agreement, seek the help of the Connexions or other external service if that was appropriate.
The Aim Higher programme became embedded in the school, its events encouraging students to achieve the grades necessary to undertake A level and HE entry. Working with Aim Higher and the University of Kent, 'Learning Together' six-week programmes were organised. These annual programmes were aimed at G&T pupils and their parents to learn together and feed-back from parents attending was positive. Several parents said they were unaware of the Higher Education opportunities so close to home. A campus tour ensured they and their daughters were aware of the proximity of the University of Kent, Christ Church Canterbury University and the University of Greenwich. We were fortunate to have also the University for Creative Arts based at Rochester and through Aim Higher, were able to build contacts with the UCA.
A key element of the work was to establish extra holiday classes for year 11, to improve their GCSE grades. These classes have been organised systematically over at least a decade. February half-term was used as well as the Easter holidays. Perhaps surprisingly, a large number of departments chose to offer holiday classes and school buzzed with year 11 students in non-uniform. These classes continue now. The holiday work extended to include a well-established and centrally-organised plan to offer maths, English and science pre- and post- school classes during term-time. Students on the C /D cusp or marginally above, were identified by departments, letters were written to parents/carers and we invested time in inviting them to individual meetings after or during school, to impress the need for their child's attendance at the classes. Centrally organised extra-curricular classes have been in operation for more than five years, whilst holiday classes for eight or nine years.
Health and safety measures, risk assessments, a fairly full-proof method of signing in and out, break arrangements, parental accord - all had to be worked out and we learnt to refine the arrangements as we progressed. Both holiday and extra-curricular classes have been hugely successful - we only had one fairly small incident of vandalism. Overall, the students reacted well to the staff giving up their time.
For some years we could afford to pay a flat rate of £100 per day to staff. The author organised and co-ordinated the classes and there was a finite budget. Dates were a problem as often several departments requiring the same participants wished to offer classes on the same day, but it worked, in the main. Decision criteria depended on the student's own recognition of greatest need. In my experience of organising the programme, staff often offered two days accepting that they could only be paid for one. With increasing financial constraints a similar programme is offered currently, with no extra pay at all - tribute to how concerned staff are about their students' preparedness for the exam. Extra classes in English, maths and science are organised during term time, from term two until term four.
Staff and students worked with a local private school. For three years G&T pupils attended out of school lessons in English, Maths and science as coaching for GCSE, at the Rochester Independent College. The sessions had to be paid for by the parents but the girls benefited from small group work in very pleasant surroundings. There were joint staff sessions to plan the courses. The students found an enormous difference between their own lessons and those at the RIC. They were able to use first names to their tutors, something that in normal school surroundings would have been impossible, they had a 'tea' break in the middle of a two hour session, when they mixed with other students from the independent college and they saw that not all learning opportunities were surrounded by 'class discipline.' The students who attended the courses said that they felt the experience was more like university, as they imagined it.
- Able pupils monitoring form July 2004 (DOC-186 KB) Attachments
- G&T concerns - letter to parent (DOC-28 KB) Attachments
- G&T memo to staff re monitoring outcomes (DOC-28 KB) Attachments
- Monitoring form for staff to log information on G&T pupils (DOC-38 KB) Attachments
- Monitoring letter to student (DOC-43 KB) Attachments
- Most able pupils monitoring form 2009 (DOC-24 KB) Attachments
What did you do? What approaches to CPD and learning for adults were used?
- Lesson observation
- Work scrutiny
Describe the CPD approaches you used
The commitment of Heads of Departments has been instrumental in progressing the G&T agenda in the school. They carry out annual audits of practice and report specifically on G&T provision and achievements. In recent years audits have used Institutional Quality Standards (IQS) to benchmark practice and feed into the school self-evaluation and planning process. At the same time, Senior Leaders use lesson observations and pupil interviews to determine the level of challenge provided for the most able and discuss outcomes with department heads.
There is a rigorous system in place and all staff are responsible for monitoring the progress of their pupils on a termly basis. In particular, Pupil Progress Managers (PPMs, formerly Heads of Year) and/or the G&T lead teacher/co-ordinator have a duty to meet with G&T pupils and their parents annually and to discuss what needs to be done for targets to be met. Pupil data and their progress history is available to all teachers and is used successfully to support transfer and transition, with KS2 pupils’ work received and reviewed and with KS4 data passed on to the Heads of the joint VI Form.
As a result of the use of IQS a Governor was designated for the G&T cohort from 2009.
Literature relating to G&T was important in supporting staff development. Not initially, but about one year after the G&T impetus, a policy document was written and relayed to all teaching and support staff, although in the early days there was not the number of support staff currently employed and those who were on the payroll had nothing whatsoever to do with G&T. The publication on an in-school policy statement had a big impact. It was as if the whole school personnel accepted that G&T was part of school development now and for the future. What may have appeared to some staff as a series of disparate events involving a few able pupils became a whole-school focus involving all staff. Staff cannot be expected to keep in mind a plethora of policy documents at all times, however, the creation of a whole school policy statement enabled Heads of Department to write into their departmental practice plans for and methods to meet the needs of G&T pupils.
This was important also in recruitment. For the first time and for ever after, we could legitimately refer to a G&T policy, ratified by the Governing Body and approved by the local authority and therefore seek the views of potential newcomers as well as observing their approach to G&T pupils in the interview process and thereafter.
Policy update is always a problem for busy teachers who write them or, even better, form interested groups to formulate them. But in this school as likely everywhere else, there is a rolling programme of governor review and update of policies. It is always a concern that our policy document is only up-to-date for a while, however, it is present; part of the whole school ethos and referred to annually in many ways.
Later on the national agenda to improve secondary, particularly in our case, non-selective high school, results, greatly helped our cause. What we had been trying to achieve was lent national credence and any staff who had felt that the most able pupils would achieve well anyway, regardless of teaching or learning content, were brought into the realisation that the G&T pupils were just as important as the LAC, (looked after children,) travellers or ethnic minorities. Perhaps not for everyone but certainly for those charged with promoting G&T in a non-selective high school, such a development could not have been bettered. In this particular school there was no 'whip' aspect. Rather, staff were led increasingly down the G&T path through staff development, performance team leadership, heads of department committed to the cause and teachers of real calibre, many existent, several new.
- G&T Policy updated June 2007 (DOC-138 KB) Attachments
- G&T Policy updated Oct 2007 (DOC-124 KB) Attachments
- IQS school review Dec 2007 (DOC-56 KB) Attachments
- Memo to staff re National G&T Quality Standards (DOC-30 KB) Attachments
- PPMs mtg and sample letter to parents Nov Dec 2007 (DOC-32 KB) Attachments
What CPD materials, research or expertise have you drawn on?
- The school G&T policy
- Quality Standards for Gifted and Talented education http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/97908
- Institutional Quality Standards (IQS)http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/97563
- Classroom Quality Standards (CQS) guided resource http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/170996
- Lead Teacher training established by LA and relayed to SLT, Staff
- Gifted and talented education guidance on preventing underachievement, 2007 http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/84939
- Helping to fund and support children with dual or multiple exceptionalities http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/84819
- Making good progress at KS3 English, 2008 http://publications.teachernet.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=publications&ProductId=DCSF-00190-2008
- Handbook for Lead Teachers, revised 2008 http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/150504
- National Challenge Raising Standards: supporting schools G&T pilot programmes elements 1 and 2 http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/197352 and http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/197358
Who provided you with support?
- External agency
- Senior management
How were you supported?
Local Authority support was invaluable in forwarding G&T through its Strategy Group which met termly, through the Lead Teacher training programme and via the twilight meetings that incorporated a range of subjects, speakers and skills. The Strategy Group, chaired by the LA adviser for G&T, is cross-phase and includes a range of LA personnel, Headteachers, Lead Teachers, Regional Partners from HE, G&T experts and, at times, parents. This group decided the themes for the G&T annual Summer Schools and those for the twilight meetings.
Twilight meetings provide the vehicle for staff from different departments to meet, exchange ideas and be kept up-to-date with G&T developments locally and nationally.
National developments such as the IQS and CQS provided a template of tools through which school practice could be evaluated. In WGS an in-depth survey was conducted to measure our progress against the IQS. Results gained were used to inform the School Development Planning for subsequent years.
In-school training included all staff as well as governors. The Head and Lead Teacher maintained commitment to G&T, whilst every opportunity was exploited to advance pupil leadership in G&T, for example, in prefect training and School Council organisation.
Howard Gardiner's work on multiple intelligences was used in staff training as well as Bloom's Taxonomy.
- Able pupils monitoring form July 2004 [ doc : 186 KB ]
- G&T concerns - letter to parent [ doc : 28 KB ]
- G&T memo to staff re monitoring outcomes [ doc : 28 KB ]
- Monitoring form for staff to log information on G&T pupils [ doc : 38 KB ]
- Monitoring letter to student [ doc : 43 KB ]
- Most able pupils monitoring form 2009 [ doc : 24 KB ]
- G&T Policy updated June 2007 [ doc : 139 KB ]
- G&T Policy updated Oct 2007 [ doc : 125 KB ]
- IQS school review Dec 2007 [ doc : 56 KB ]
- Memo to staff re National G&T Quality Standards [ doc : 30 KB ]
- PPMs mtg and sample letter to parents Nov Dec 2007 [ doc : 33 KB ]
- Download all [ 172 KB ]