Supporting Academically More Able Pupils

Once known as ‘gifted and talented’, pupils working at above average levels can benefit hugely from targeted one-to-one tuition.

In March 2015, Ofsted concluded that many of the most able children attending non-selective secondary schools were failing to achieve their potential. It’s no surprise then that many parents of more able children seek private tuition to help their children flourish.

Gifted or academically more able?

While there has been considerable debate about the best term to use for pupils with advanced abilities – with ‘gifted’, ‘talented’, ‘very able’, ‘exceptionally able’ and now ‘academically more able’ among the most used options – education leaders are in no doubt about the importance of supporting and stretching these pupils.

The Department for Education currently defines ‘academically more able learners’ as ‘those who have abilities in one or more academic subjects such as mathematics or English.’

Potential Plus UK (formerly known as the National Association for Gifted Children), which uses the term ‘high learning potential’ (with ‘gifted and able’ in brackets) goes further.

‘Children with High Learning Potential are much more than high IQ scorers,’ they state. ‘These children are fascinating, complex, challenging, brimming with vast potential and an incredible thirst for knowledge.’

The decision to update the name and vocabulary of the NAGC followed concerns about a social stigma attached to the word ‘gifted’, with parents, teachers and children labelled as ‘gifted’ saying they felt the term was limiting and exclusive.

The national strategy for supporting able pupils has similarly changed, and in the past 15 years the government has implemented and then withdrawn various differing national and area-specific schemes. In 2009 the government reviewed its current national programme and concluded that it was not having sufficient impact on schools. Consequently, provision was scaled back and schools were expected to do more themselves for their most able pupils.

As a result, there is considerable difference between schools and the ways in which they support their most able students.

Which teaching strategies are most effective? 

More able pupils often enjoy a creative and more cross-curricular approach to teaching and learning, a DfE report concluded. To engage such pupils, a wider variety of teaching strategies and approaches are often needed.

More able pupils may do only the minimum amount of work, if not sufficiently academically stretched – so pupils need to be ‘pushed to deeper thinking’.

In 2015, Oftsed reported that more able students thrive in schools where leaders provide a challenging and stimulating curriculum that meets students’ needs. The most successful secondary schools use the information they receive from primary schools to make sure that students are doing work that stretches them as soon as they join and throughout their time at the school.

However, in other schools, Ofsted’s inspectors found that the needs of many more able students were not sufficiently prioritised. Too many were receiving teaching within a curriculum that did not sufficiently challenge them and around a quarter who showed very strong potential in English and maths at age 11 did not go on to achieve a B grade at GCSE.

How does one-to-one tuition help?

In our experience, academically more able pupils can benefit massively from one-to-one tuition, especially when tuition sessions are planned to foster independence.

Home-School Tutoring prides itself on being in tune with the needs of more able children and young people. We can provide specialist one-to-one private tuition which is student-led, challenging and stimulating.  Tuition can be arranged for after-school, at the weekend or in the school holidays.

Our home tutors understand that more diverse learning approaches and a variety of teaching strategies can stimulate more able students and motivate them to fulfil their full potential.

Home-School Tutoring can also provide private tuition to help students prepare for the 11-plus and Common Entrance exams.

Margaret Sweetland, Director of Home-School Tutoring, says: “Our tutors are committed to helping ensure the most able students fulfil their potential and are engaged by their learning.

“We have tutors who are experts in all subjects taught in school, as well as in other subjects that students may be interested in, such as extra-curricular languages or musical instrument tuition.”

Why choose Home-School Tutoring?

Home-School Tutoring has provided quality home tuition for over 30 years. A rigorous registration procedure ensures all tutors are suitably qualified and committed to delivering attentive and effective tuition. Certificates of qualifications are verified, references are obtained, and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are made for all tutors.

Our Area Advisors are available to provide advice to parents considering home tutoring, and can match pupils with the tutor best suited to their needs.

Parents can find contact details for their local Area Advisor via the locations page. 

Home-School Tutoring is also currently inviting applications from qualified tutors interested in joining Home-School Tutoring. See Become a Tutor for details.

Further reading:

Developing quality tuition: effective practice in schools – academically more able

The most able students: an update on progress since June 2013