Able, Gifted and Talented

(High Starters, Secondary Achievers and High Academic Achievers)



At Focus York Campus we recognise that we must create an environment and offer learning opportunities suitable for all our students to reach their full potential.

Gifted and talented learners were first defined by the Labour government of 1997 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)’. (DCSF, 2008)

Our approach is to provide personalised learning that tailors education to individual need, interest and aptitude. Strategies to enable increased pace, depth and challenge are just as important as providing strategies for those with learning disabilities (DfE personalisation agenda 2005)

Gifted and talented education emphasises integrating gifted and talented students with age peers in so far as possible and enabling the teacher in ordinary classrooms to differentiate teaching to meet their need (Eyre 2004).


Reason for change of terminology

Recommendation has been made that the terms ‘Gifted and Talented’ be abandoned (Sutton Trust July 2012) and to focus on those who are ‘Most Able’ and capable of excellence in school subjects (OFSTED June 2013, March 2015).

It is recognised that at Focus York Campus, students develop at different rates.  Students initially identified as ‘Able’ at KS2 are not the only students who are ‘Gifted and Talented’. Some students develop and perform above their peers at KS3 and others demonstrate excellent GCSE / AS results.  This is reinforced by ‘Fixed and Growth Mindset’ (Dweck 2006) that people are not innately gifted or talented and that effort is a key characteristic of being a high achiever.

Within Focus York Campus we recognise that at KS2 we have students who can be described as Able or ‘High Starters’ but that this situation is flexible; most High Starters will have to work hard to maintain this advantage, while other students demonstrate that they are ‘Gifted and Talented’ later on through improving their performance in a subject or subjects.  This is noticeable at KS3.  Students can often emerge in certain subjects and can be described as ‘Secondary Achievers’.  Finally some students seem to perform well at GCSE/AS and can be described as ‘High Academic Achievers’

Therefore at Focus York Campus we identify ‘Able, Gifted and Talented’ pupils and refer to the ‘Most able’ as ‘High Starters’, Gifted and Talented as ‘Secondary Achievers’ and ‘High Academic Achievers.’

Due to the nature of our school, we believe that it is still appropriate to recognise ‘Talented’ students.  ‘Talented’ students are those who show talent in one or more specific areas that include practical, creative and social fields of human activity. (Estyn 2013)

We recognise that some students have an innate ability, who present a natural, outstanding aptitude or competence for exceptional performance in a non-academic area. This includes art, music, sport, public speaking or the performing arts.


Aims and Objectives

At Focus York Campus we believe that it is important to meet the needs of the most able students because all students have the right to achieve their potential.  This can be achieved by teaching and offering the educational conditions which will change, extend and stretch their thinking as far as it will go. (Eyre 2011)

Developing curious learners and identifying their Potential + Support and Opportunity + Motivation = High Achievement (Hymer 2009)

With the aid of a variety of strategies including SDL, enrichment, extra-curricular, House activities and teacher led activities we aim to realise high achievement by

  • Identifying potential in more able students whether they are ‘High Starters’, ‘Secondary Achievers’ or ‘High Academic Achievers’ and those identified with a special talent
  • Offering challenge and support to enable ‘High Starters’, ‘Secondary Achievers’, ‘High Academic Achievers’ and ’Talented’ pupils to push the boundaries of what is possible.
  • Encouraging and maintaining a culture where students are recognised and high achievements are celebrated.
  • Identifying, and reviewing, a register of these students from Year 4 to Year 13.
  • Offering and reviewing a differentiated curriculum that meets the students need, interest and aptitude through personalised education enabling them to attain their full potential.
  • Developing and sustaining a high achieving learning ethos throughout the school.



To identify students, Focus York Campus use formative and summative information.  Within specified CPD time during the school year, class teachers have the opportunity to present a judgement based on an analysis of various sources of information including:

  • Teacher Assessment and results from summative tests.
  • Teacher nomination (based on observation, professional judgement, discussions with pupils, parents, work scrutiny)

High Starters

  • In Year 3 it is important to allow students to settle into their new school environment. As students need time to adjust it is appropriate to take time and care nurturing this transition.  To allow all stakeholders to make an informed judgement from sufficient formative and summative information, it is appropriate to note in-house student development but to identify High Starters at the end of the first term in Year 4.
  • KS2 – Students are those identified by strict criteria; which encompasses them having both formative and summative assessment rather than one indicator.
  • Rising Stars Test
  • KS2 – InCAS results will be used from Y3-Y6
  • SATs undertaken by Year 6 with those achieving in mathematics and/or English
  • Junior maths challenge
  • Assessments and observations undertaken by class teachers
  • The list of High Starters is fixed as it is based on attainment displayed at KS2.
  • Identification of students will be on an annual basis and assessments / nomination discussions will be held at the end of the first term by teaching staff, and a centralised database created.


Secondary Achievers

  • Teacher nomination: students with passion and potential in individual subjects are nominated by their teachers after the first term, and a centralised database is created. This list can be adapted throughout the year.
  • ‘Secondary Achievers’ are identified using a variety of formative and summative information
  • Within Y8 and Y9 this will include students achieving sustained high attainment in mathematics and/or English, teacher assessments, observation, maths challenge and work scrutiny.
  • Within Y10 and Y11 those students that are targeted to achieve a level 7+ in their expected GCSE scores or 8+ in their aspirational GCSE scores are identified as ‘Secondary Achievers’.
  • Staff will review lists annually at the end of the first term in a nominated staff meeting. By utilising the experience of staff in and out of lessons and holding a termly review, we ensure that the process of identifying Secondary Achievers is transparent, fair, effective and representative of our cohort.

High Academic Achievers

  • Within Years 12 and 13 those students with a capped GCSE score of 7.5+ in their top 8 GCSEs are identified as ‘High Academic Achievers’. This however will be used in conjunction with ALIS test scores at the end of the first term. Students will be given access to further challenges, including the EPQ (Extended Project Qualification).


Talented pupils are identified by making a judgement based on various sources of information and events including:

  • Teacher nomination (based on observation, professional judgement, discussions with pupils, parents, observation and work scrutiny where appropriate)
  • Expert nomination from sport coaches or teachers of music, art and the performing arts
  • Performance in House competition events during the school year
  • Students can be nominated throughout the school year and added to the centralised register when appropriate.

Ones to Watch

It is recognised that some students may demonstrate consideration for the AGT register but require further evidence to support their inclusion.  These students will be placed on the ‘Ones to Watch’ list that can be updated throughout the year through nomination of different stakeholders at Focus School York Campus:

  • It enables Year 3 students to be monitored during their first year at the school and Year 4 students in their first term to be monitored allowing staff to make an informed judgement based on a variety of information
  • Students for consideration in the next AGT annual cycle can be highlighted throughout the year and evidence tracked to determine whether they are included on the AGT register.


Individual Subject Stretch & Provision

Provision for the High Starters is not a ‘bolt on’ but an integral part of effective teaching and learning.

Offering enrichment activities, extension work, additional sessions, trips and visits offer variety but do not challenge students.  To make a real difference at Focus York Campus we try to make a real difference to their learning by looking at their provision day in, day out – every lesson.  (National Teacher research panel – Williams 2006)

We follow 6 principles as laid out by (

  1. Challenge
  2. Explanation
  3. Modelling
  4. Practice
  5. Questioning
  6. Feedback


The level of challenge for all students is highest in the classroom itself. Students are stretched through the development of One School Skills among other skills; Resilience, Critical and Logical thinking, Creative thinking, Independent Research skills, Problem Solving, Self-evaluation and Reflection skills. Collaborative, open-ended tasks involving higher-order thinking activities (which mean manipulating or applying data) offer most challenge (Williams 2006).

It is the responsibility of each subject teacher to ensure that opportunities for the advancement of AGT students are detailed in schemes of work. Teaching thinking and problem-solving, higher order skills, study skills, communication skills; and teaching for a range of learning styles will be encouraged in Schemes of Learning.  SDL will also provide the ability to challenge and stretch the more able.


At Focus York Campus we don’t assume students’ prior knowledge, but find out what they know/can do and build on this – so whatever their level of understanding, we aim to move it on to the next level.  In order to do this we make explanations at a high enough level to challenge them.  We ensure that we don’t overload students with difficult work and extension work but build up the challenging content in stages.  Through teacher explanation, we take students from surface learning i.e. remembering the key knowledge, to deep learning i.e. being able to relate and link this knowledge to other knowledge with opportunities such as cross curricular projects.



It is important for staff to model the fine detail, so AGT students are able to use this to refine their own work, and so ensure that it includes a great level of detail.  Staff don’t just model the final product, we ensure that students model their thinking – why did you write that sentence in that way?  What was behind using that particular terminology?  How are you going to extend and explain that particular point?  It is important to show them how an expert thinks – and then encourage them to do the same.

The use of exemplar work of the highest achieving students is also used for other students. This will then model the standard that teachers expect from students.  It is important to do more than this though. Other students need to know about whose work it was.  What did he/she do, that enabled him/her to produce such excellent work?  This then supports the development of other students.



It is important not to rush students but to give them the time to embed new knowledge and skills they are learning.  If the level of challenge is right, students will deal with difficult material, so it is important to ensure that the teacher ‘checks in’ with students, in order to ensure that mistakes aren’t being compounded.

At Focus York Campus we encourage a range of techniques including dedicated improvement and reflection time (DIRT), self-assessment and peer marking. By offering students the opportunity to self-check their work and respond to corrections they can focus on making their own improvements with the support of the teacher.



It is important that discussion probes, engages, activates, challenges, connects and lifts AGT students. Teachers at Focus York Campus adopt Socratic questioning to provide a framework for thinking about how they can support students to think deeply about the topic they are learning.  Bloom’s Taxonomy and Socratic questioning prompts are useful:


  1. Getting students to clarify their thinking/ Explore the origin of their thinking

e.g., ‘Why do you say that?’, ‘Could you explain further?’


  1. Challenging students about assumptions 

e.g., ‘Is this always the case?’, ‘Why do you think that this assumption holds here?’


  1. Evidence as a basis for argument

e.g., ‘Why do you say that?’, ‘Is there reason to doubt this evidence?’


  1. Alternative viewpoints and perspectives/ conflict with other thoughts

e.g., ‘What is the counter-argument?’, ‘Can/did anyone see this another way?’


  1. Implications and consequences

e.g., ‘But if…happened, what else would result?’, ‘How does…affect…?’


  1. Question the question

e.g., ‘Why do you think that I asked that question?’, ‘Why was that question important?’, ‘Which of your questions turned out to be the most useful?’


Another strategy that Focus York Campus use is to think of difficult ‘think hard’ questions, that the high starters can tackle during the lesson such as past exam papers to enable students in lessons to promote deep thinking.


At Focus York Campus when asking students difficult questions, we don’t accept ‘no’ for an answer.  Teachers will scaffold questioning down and then build it up again.




Feedback to students is important and needs to be an evaluative process designed to stretch students further.  Students are expected to respond to feedback given by the teacher and look at ways of improving upon their work with techniques such as DIRT (Dedicated Improvement and Reflective Time).

Identifying One School Skills that are achieved through activities such as SDL enable AGT students to identify progress and support stretching them further.  This enables students to not only hit the ground running when they enter employment after school but will support them in making a difference to their community.

Monitoring and Evaluation

At Focus York Campus we recognise the importance of not just identifying AGT but that it needs to be monitored and evaluated to support those on the register.

Each term staff will monitor those identified as AGT and the progress that they are making.  At the end of each term a letter will be sent home to parents of AGT students with personalised targets for students in the coming term:

‘High Starters’ in KS2 will receive 3/4 targets in total to support development.  Targets set at the end of the first term will be the same targets as their Primary reports in February.

‘High Starters’ in KS3-5 will receive 1 target from each subject teacher.

‘Secondary Achievers’ in KS3/4 and where relevant in KS5 will receive 1 target for their relevant subject/s in which they show aptitude.

‘Academic Achievers’ will receive 1 target from each subject teacher.

Students that have been identified as AGT within one subject discipline will only require targets from appropriate subject staff.

Work scrutiny by SLT will ensure that a selection of AGT student work is monitored at the same time and that provision is supporting and stretching those students.

The evaluation process is designed to assist the Senior Leadership Team and teachers to plan for improvement and to target resources more effectively (i.e. Process for Development and Review). It also should increase teacher understanding of what works and engender confidence in order to try new things.

Challenging targets are published by Focus for all identified students in all secondary subjects and these are cross-referenced to exam and test results. Teachers self-evaluate and review their provision and the outcomes of interventions to inform future AGT provision.


Warren Parkin

9th December 2016

Review date: 9th December 2017