Becky Catlin, gifted and talented coordinator at Sir Christopher Hatton Academy, explains how a school policy for the identification of more able learners can become a guide to profiling for provision across the curriculum.

When taking on the role of gifted and talented coordinator at Sir Christopher Hatton Academy, and beginning my research into the needs of gifted children, the initial and ultimately the broadest debate I encountered was the problem of how to define and identify giftedness.

Working with an established and highly developed policy on identification at Sir Christopher Hatton Academy provides a solid foundation for the provision we have in place for our more able learners. So much so, it is now far more than just a method of recognising students with ability. It has become a system of profiling for provision: inextricably linked to the personalised practice we have in place for these students across the curriculum.

Through sharing our approach to profiling (in a full case study to be shared with NACE members later this term), I hope to capture the intention we have for profiling our students in detail, and explore how this can enable good provision for the highest-potential students in our classrooms – with the overall goal of raising attainment and aspiration for all.

The importance of a multi-faceted approach

Current examples of best practice encourage us to approach the notion of intelligence, giftedness and potential from a variety of angles. Our school policies for the identification of gifted, talented and more able students must recognise that these qualities manifest themselves uniquely in all students, and will not necessarily emerge through the same identification processes for all.

The notion of what it means to be highly able, or to demonstrate potential, is the first element for schools to understand. In my case study, I start by sharing the theoretical background and context that our understanding is derived from, and looking at how this context provides a framework for our own methods of identification, or more multifaceted profiling in our schools.

Profiling of more able learners at Sir Christopher Hatton Academy takes on a multi-layered approach to provision for each student, as it moves towards a holistic, variable view of high ability, which can be seen in different types of ability and different situations. The school now holds a database of student profiles, which defines not only each individual’s ability in particular subjects, but their skillset and optimum methods for working with them in the classroom. I have aimed to present this as a model, and to analyse how it operates in practice as a case study of the Academy, and some selected students.

Moving beyond identification to focus on provision

I hope my study will emphasise that there is, increasingly, an argument for moving beyond simply “identifying” our more able students, towards a more robust notion of what defines a student as more able, in order to define the provision that can be offered to facilitate the activation of their skills across the curriculum.

Ultimately, I believe that a clear and detailed understanding of what identifying high ability means can upgrade a more able register to a document that indicates not only how to differentiate for more able learners, but how to provide the best resources and environment for developing high achievement and potential in other students around them.

Becky Catlin is a teacher of English and drama, and the gifted and talented coordinator at Sir Christopher Hatton Academy. Previously a theatre director and creative learning artist for Edinburgh theatres, Becky loves working with young people, creating environments that challenge them constructively and in which they can thrive.

Sir Christopher Hatton Academy is an outstanding lead academy in a multi-academy trust in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. The academy achieved its second accreditation with the NACE Challenge Award in 2015, and is working towards its third.

This blog post is a preview of Becky Catlin’s forthcoming case study of profiling for provision at Sir Christopher Hatton Academy. The full study will be shared with NACE members later this term.

Not a NACE member? Find out more.

 
Date: 
Thursday, May 18, 2017