Interested in developing very able students at post-16 by personalising learning, creating challenge and developing independent learners? Have a look at our handbook aimed at those responsible for improving teaching and learning at post-16

Written by Moira Sheehan, Richard Gould and Jeremy Reynolds

A handbook to support your Gifted & Talented strategy

This handbook is a source of practical advice and expertise for all those responsible for improving teaching and learning at post-16, including lead professionals for Gifted and Talented, Heads of Sixth Forms and Vice-Principals. Whether you have just started to think about provision for your very able students or whether you have a well-established programme, this handbook can help.

This comprehensive handbook will enable you to:

  • Create and lead a Stretch and Challenge initiative
  • Evaluate your provision
  • Plan improvement
  • Develop colleagues
  • Tackle underachievement
  • Raise standards
  • Motivate and engage learners

Why support your most able?
Experience and evidence show the importance of a strategy to support your very able students. This not only ensures that those identified as being Gifted or Talented realise their potential, but also raises expectations, creates a positive learning environment and motivates every student and teacher in your school or college.

A focus on provision for the Gifted & Talented will feed back to enhance the long term interests of all students:

  • By recognising and celebrating achievement – case studies evidence that this can radically improve your school’s culture and attitude
  • By meeting the Every Child Matters agenda – bringing an awareness and valuing of diversity in talent to every student
  • By addressing the problem of underperforming able students – a personal tragedy and waste for the nation.

Evidence indicates that not only do the majority of the most able students perform below their potential, they fail to even meet their peer group average. Only 20% of the children classified as Gifted and Talented for KS2 Maths and English in 1999 realised their potential in 2006.

In addition to general text, within each chapter the following features are also included:

Case studies – examples of good practice
Interactive tasks – activities that allow you to reflect on progress in your own school or college

  • “What does it mean by…?” – explanations of terms and phrases
  • Suggested checklists – tick boxes to help you decide if you have fulfilled an IQS criterion
  • “What you need to know” – explanations of concepts, terminology and practice
  • Reference sheets – information about aspects of Gifted and Talented provision to use with your colleagues
  • Staff development tasks – ideas of activities that you could use when training colleagues

The handbook has been structured around the Institutional Quality Standards for Gifted and Talented Education (IQS). The IQS is a self-evaluation tool that is widely used in England to judge the quality of provision for very able students. Each of the main chapters in the handbook corresponds to one of the 14 elements in the IQS. These chapters are then grouped into sections to
reflect the five main themes. Together these cover all aspects of personalising provision for your very able students. The five themes are:

Section A: Effective teaching and learning strategies
Section B: Enabling curriculum entitlement and choice
Section C: Assessment for learning
Section D: School/college organisation
Section E: Strong partnerships beyond the school

There is no need to read the sections of the handbook in order. It has been written to enable the reader to go straight to a section that addresses the element of the IQS that they wish to focus on, for example Standards (IQS3) or Learning beyond the classroom (IQS14). Each of the chapters is a self-contained unit and can be accessed at Entry, Developing or Exemplary Level. The handbook also contains an introduction to Gifted and Talented and support for Leading a new initiative and Self-evaluation.

About the authors
The authors of this handbook work at Villiers Park Educational Trust, a national charity with over 40 years’ experience of supporting very able post-16 students and their teachers. The Trust is recognised as a national expert in this field and is proud to have developed its philosophy and strategy in a practical and pragmatic way. Paying attention to student opinion about their learning experience continues to make a major impact on our knowledge acquisition. Trust representatives sat on the Department for Children Schools and Families’ steering group to develop the Institutional Quality Standards (IQS) and have undertaken a DCSF project to pilot the use of IQS at post-16 institutions in the Eastern Region. Since then, schools and colleges nationally have benefited from an advisory service to develop provision for the most able post-16 students.

ISBN: 978-0-905538-58-4