More Able Students
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Mad Hatter asks Alice:
Q: “Why is a raven like a writing desk?“
At Samuel Ryder Academy we are committed to ensuring all students achieve more than they ever thought possible, both academically and in other areas of their lives. To help More Able Students (MASt) meet their potential, we recognise that they need tailored challenge in every lesson as well as other opportunities to highlight their ability.
The government measure the quality of schools in a number of ways, partly by identifying groups within the student body and charting how they are catered for. More Able Students are such a group; the provision for these students is a matter of equity.
We identify our More Able Students using scaled scores stemming from their CAT and KS2 SATs results. In addition, departments are able to identify students as being talented in their specific area based on the department specific policies.
Our More Able Students’ procedure aims to encourage the following:
- student independence and resilience
- an environment which enables students to learn new things
- differentiation and challenge in lessons
- extra curricular opportunities
- student participation in a variety of endeavours
We understand that students shine in various areas. In order to support and challenge MASt, we keep a register of their skills. Their grades from every subject are tracked 4 times annually to see if they are performing as they should, areas they excel in, and where they might need extra help. This can lead to discussions with the student, parents and interventions to help them get back on track. Every teacher has access to this register and it is supplemented by the Learning Portraits which all MASt are asked to complete. This enables teachers to find out what interests the students and how best they learn.
An exciting initiative that has been launched is the inaugural Masters Book. This has meant some selected students have been able to showcase great pieces of original work which exemplifies the wide range of interests out MASt have.
At the heart of delivering opportunities for growth to students is the teachers and the quality of teaching and learning. As previously stated, our aim is to ensure all learners reach and ideally surpass their targets to achieve beyond their expectations. Equity of opportunity means that MASt are challenged to a higher degree and this is especially true in their daily lessons. Teachers plan higher order thinking questions in their courses and these are differentiated to scaffold students’ learning. One of the Academy’s teaching and learning priorities this year is the idea of “flipped learning” whereby students prepare for units and lessons prior to classroom time, when they can then extend their understanding with their teacher and peers. This in turn creates a greater understanding of topics covered, deepens metacognition and increases independence.
AS well as lessons there are ample enrichment opportunities for MASt, with a wide range of clubs and trips to cater for their needs. Different departments also run targeted MASt clubs or projects throughout the year. The curriculum is also supported with competitions, additional reading and a wealth of subject information on iTunes U.
Parents and carers play an important role in unlocking the potential of More Able Students. Some ideas to help you help your child include:
- Watching and discussing (eg BBC4) documentaries
- Encouraging reading generally: novels, non-fiction books, newspapers and online articles
- Listen to an interesting podcast series and then discuss it with them
- Visit places of cultural importance
- Discuss what they learnt at school and how they learnt it
How can MASt help themselves?
- Talk to your teachers about units that are coming up and prepare for them
- Enrol in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
- Read around your study areas using the reading lists provided
- Set up a study group with your friends
- Ask your teachers if you have any questions
As co-ordinator for more able students, I welcome any thoughts or suggestions for you have for the MASt program at Samuel Ryder Academy. (Or if you want to answer "Why is a raven like a writing desk?“) Please feel free to get in touch.