Central to our ethos of Excellence for all is our determination to provide appropriate stretch, challenge and enrichment opportunities, for all our students. For those who are more able providing challenge, opportunities to extend their learning and developing their appreciation of the next level in their subjects is key to these students realising their potential. The approach we take to delivering a such a curriculum for the more able, including that beyond the classroom, is evidence-based, taking into account the latest research from NACE (National Association for able Children in Education), Ofsted, Sutton Trust and other Educational organisations such as the National College of Teaching.
The most recent Ofsted report on more able students (The most able students: an update on progress since June 2013, published in 2015) provided an update on their progress in secondary schools. It found that, in schools where the more able were making good or better progress, the negative impact of transition between primary and secondary school had been minimised. In addition, where the most able were thriving, schools were providing a curriculum that was challenging, with the quality of teaching in the school being good or better, for all students.
Our Academic transition programme, where we work closely with feeder primary schools to understand what students have studied and the level of work each student is able to produce, specifically addresses one of the issues raised by Ofsted. This is to ensure that more able students do not repeat work they have already mastered at KS2 and that they are challenged by the tasks set and the level of knowledge and understanding expected of them from the start of KS3.
There is an increasing recognition of the importance of ‘cultural capital’ if students are to access the full richness of the curriculum and to reach their potential. We provide a rich, varied and well planned programme of cultural experiences, visits, and speakers for all our students from Year 7 throughout their time at St. Crispin’s, and specific events for our More Able students through our links with Wellington College, universities and other organisations. However, it is the case that sometimes assumptions are made about the broader social and cultural knowledge of More Able students which are not well-founded. Our Curriculum Research group is therefore, as part of their in-depth consideration of our curriculum content and delivery at KS3 and 4, looking specifically at the cultural capital all students, including the more able, need to access and fully appreciate the subjects they study.
Both the Ofsted report and the Educational Endowment Foundation (which assesses the effectiveness of different strategies in improving progress of students), highlight the importance of well-designed Personal Study tasks. As Ofsted noted, it is not enough to set extension tasks for the more able to complete once they have completed the set task. To really engage and stretch the more able tasks need to be differentiated, and therefore more challenging, from the outset. At St. Crispin’s , we recognise the importance of inspiring our students to stretch themselves by giving them choice of more challenging Personal study, where appropriate, so that they don’t, as one student commented to Ofsted, have to ‘work through the normal stuff to get to the interesting stuff.’