Addressing underachievement: Planning a whole-school approach
Giving every single child the chance to be the best they can be, whatever their talent or background, is not the betrayal of excellence; it is the fulfilment of it.
‘Personalised learning: Building a new relationship with schools’, a speech by David Miliband, Minister of State for School Standards, North of England Education Conference, Belfast, 8 January 2004
The 2005 White Paper, Higher Standards, Better Schools for All, set provision for gifted and talented pupils clearly in the context of personalisation.
This approach has been developed within the national programme for Gifted and Talented (G&T) education with three key principles:
- developing Quality First teaching (QFT)
- counteracting disadvantage
- preventing and addressing underachievement.
Why focus on underachievement of gifted and talented pupils?
Underachievement is not found exclusively among pupils who are failing to meet national expectations. National data sources show that:
- there is significant underachievement among our more able pupils
- marked gaps exist between the progress, achievement and attainment of some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, for example pupils who are eligible for free school meals (FSM) and their peers.
The Department for Children, Families and Schools (DCSF) defined gifted and talented pupils as:
Children and young people with one or more abilities developed to a level significantly ahead of their year group (or with the potential to develop those abilities).
Identifying gifted and talented learners – getting started, Revised May 2008 (DCSF, 2008), page 1
Pupils who are at risk of underachievement, including those from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds, currently fail to have their abilities recognised or to make the progress that they should. These pupils may not achieve highly in formal assessment; they may lack the aspirations, the motivation and the support systems of some of their peers.
Schools can only address this through a strategic, whole-school approach to planning provision, ensuring that pupils have access to a Quality First teaching environment, along with specific and effective interventions, in order to foster and discover ability. Del Siegle (2007) described clearly the need for schools to be engaged in:
…a two-step process: first provide opportunities for talent to surface, then recognise that talent and help to move it to exceptional levels.
Siegle, D., (2007) ‘The time is now to stand up for gifted education: NAGC Presidential Address’ in Gifted Child Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 2
This information details how the materials can support the development of QFT and whole-school strategies. They can also be used by local authorities to support schools in addressing underachievement.
This information details the statutory duties on all maintained schools in England to promote community cohesion and provide equal opportunities for all pupils to succeed at the highest level possible, by removing barriers to access and participation.
This information provides a list of typical underachievers, including pupils from specific groups, and strategies for recognising gifts and talents in underachieving pupils.
Find out how tackling underachievement and narrowing the gaps can be achieved by ensuring access to high-quality learning experiences, raising aspirations and raising achievement for all children and young people.
Find out how the three-waves model of intervention can be used as part of your gifted and talented provision.
This information on provision mapping can help school leaders to ensure curriculum entitlement, effective use of resources and deployment of trained staff to support pupils.
This detailed information about the effect of transition on achievement and identification of gifted pupils examines the processes that can ensure prior attainment and achievement are recognised and progress is maintained.