Gifted & Talented
At Accrington Academy, we strive to provide an education for our most able and talented students that is as rich, challenging and rewarding as to be found anywhere. Furthermore, it is just as important to us that these students understand their gifts and learn to value them. The Academy believes that a comprehensive able and talented programme does not just serve the relatively few students who enjoy the opportunities it provides. Just as a rising tide raises all ships, the service of our most able and talented serves all.
The Academy consistently reviews the effectiveness of its programme for able and talented students, focusing on 5 key areas:
- Acknowledgement & Support
- Competitive Habits
- Cultivation of Interests
Able and Talented students are the top 20% of their year group. These students are initially identified on the basis of their key stage 2 data provided by their primary schools. Our process for the identification of students for the A&T register allows for the nomination of students by parents who feel their children warrant consideration for being included and are able to support the nomination with relevant evidence. The register is reviewed at the end of each academic year on the basis of 3 key criteria
- the natural ability or talent of the student
- the level of motivation the student consistently demonstrates
- the ability of the student to work independently
The Academy values the motivation and willingness of a student to work independently above all else.
The Academy provides a differentiated curriculum that integrates depth, complexity and risk opportunities that develop the levels of resilience and determination required for high performance and completion of top university placements. Each subject area has an able and talented ‘link’ who ensures their subject area embraces the particular needs of able and talented students. It is the responsibility of each link to promote the idea within their department that the lesson must place each student at edge of their ability for the duration of the lesson.
A core focus for the academy’s able and talented programme is to ensure that enrichment opportunities are as meaningful and nourishing as possible. On entry to the academy, each able and talented student is asked to complete a questionnaire that surveys their experiences and interests. That information is then collated and kept on file which allows the academy to direct students accordingly and where possible create provision that caters to what has been stated. Just some examples of these enrichment opportunities are as follows: It is the expectation of the Academy’s English Department that each KS3 able student should join the Creative Writing enrichment programme for one half term of fun sessions that significantly enhance their writing abilities.
As featured on Sky 1’s recent series ‘The Kings and Queens of Speech’, Debate Mate is a 17 week long programme that develops the public speaking and debating skills of students in secondary schools. Our post-graduate mentor is from Lancaster University and runs debating sessions once a week. The students also participate in a schools debate league that culminates in a debating tournament at a leading university. http://debatemate.com/
Beginners ‘Japanese’ is an example of a curriculum opportunity that was created in response to the results of the ‘Interests Survey’ that revealed several of our highest ability student’s interest in learning Japanese.
IGGY is a social network site developed by the University of Warwick specifically for able and talented young people aged between 13-18 years of age.The top 5% of our students can create their own profile and access advanced super-curricula content, debates and competitions tailored to their interests with the support of top academics and other gifted and talented young people around the world. https://www.iggy.net/
STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths is a programme which reaches outside the classroom. It allows students to enhance their enjoyment of these subjects through a variety of high quality opportunities that challenges students and provides confidence to think critically, creatively and to solve problems in real world contexts.
The Academy offers all 3 levels of the Duke Edinburgh Awards. It is an Academy expectation that all able and talented students should achieve the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award by the time they leave 6th Form. http://www.dofe.org/
It is a commonly misunderstood belief that gifted students require less support than other students. The Academy recognises that this is far from being the case and continuously strives to ensure that the social and emotional needs of these students are as recognised as their academic needs. The able and talented support provision is informed by the following core considerations:
- Understanding the student
- Student’s understanding of self (my identity, my abilities, my thoughts and attitudes)
- Social considerations (friendship groups, exposure to gifted children, domestic life & values)
- Career support
- Academic needs
To support this, attitudes to a variety of areas are regularly surveyed and followed up on with appropriate interventions.
Academic mentoring forms a strong core strand of the support provision that able and talented students either provide or receive. This support is often facilitated by the students themselves but can also involve collaborations with external educational organisations or businesses. For example: Saturday Sixes: On Saturday mornings, Year 11 students are able to access peer support for subjects they themselves have identified as areas that require development from high ability Sixth Form mentors. This initiative has proved an enormous success and has consistently had a positive impact on confidence levels as well as progress.
The East Lancashire Scholars Programme: As one of only 6 schools in Lancashire, Accrington Academy has been chosen by Lancaster University and Villiers Park Educational Trust to participate in the East Lancashire Scholars Programme. The programme involves a limited number of highly able candidates being paired with a post-graduate university mentor for one on one mentoring sessions and training. The programme aims to inspire students and remove obstacles to them getting access to the top universities in the country. http://www.villierspark.org.uk/our-courses-and-programmes/scholars-programme-2/where-we-work/east-lancashire-scholars-programme/
The Able and Talented Parent Academy Partnership was started to ensure parents felt they had regular contact with the Academy and transparency of their child’s learning activities. It has started with the parents of able and talented students in Years 7, 8 and 9. The parents meet with the able and talented co-ordinator and various staff representatives once every half term to hear about updates to the programme, how their children are challenged in different subject areas, share parenting practice and address any concerns they might have. Parents are also provided with:
- generic resources for parents of able and talented students
- a half termly able and talented newsletter
- ‘One Key Thing’ to focus on at home from each subject area to support their child’s progress in that subject
- ‘One Key Habit’ for each half term to help build their child’s competitive habits
Parents are aware they are able to get in touch with the Academy at any time to ask questions and deal with any issues that arise on an ad-hoc basis.
Every parent hopes for their child to be smart and to excel in school, but sometimes parents just don’t know what to do with a child who is exceptional. Keeping him or her challenged, interested, and engaged can be tough. As parents of able children, you should know that they’re not alone and that there are hundreds of resources on the Web that can help every step of the way. Here are some we think stand out from the crowd, offering advice, information, support, and educational resources to help you support and encourage your child’s special abilities.
One Key thing.
How you can support your child in:
English Encourage them to read more! Each able and talented child is expected to: 1. Read a new book every two weeks. This book will either be chosen from the higher level texts from the ‘Accelerated Reader’ programme or the 6th From Library 2. Aim to read a broadsheet newspaper every day (starting with 5 articles a day). This will impact on both reading and writing ability especially if they read outside your comfort zone!
Maths Ensure they do their Mental Maths Homework and encourage them to use the following website for One Step Beyond homework: www.hegartymaths.com
Science: In Science, we ask that you support your child to make outstanding progress by asking questions that require them to apply their learning to a new or different situation. Integration of knowledge across all three scientific areas is crucial for students to enhance their own understanding and will ultimately ensure they fulfil their capabilities in Science.
One Key Focus: Each half term, the parents of able and talented students are given a competitive habit to help their child develop at home. The key focuses so far this year are:
- Reading a broadsheet national newspaper on a daily basis. Start with 5 articles a day!
- Download TED Talks and watch one lecture with your child per week and talk about it afterwards.