Exceptional Ability and Aptitude
As a school, we place great emphasis upon outstanding teaching and learning, believing that ‘A rising tide lifts all ships’! (Renzulli) Teachers follow the recommendations set out in the ‘Classroom Quality Standards for Gifted and Talented students’ document circulated by the UK government. To fulfil its targets, they must tailor learning to suit all learners as far as possible. Teachers are also focussed upon setting challenges for all students in all lessons. At Fort Pitt, we have just over 300 students who are identified as having ‘Exceptional Ability and Aptitude’ (EAA) – substantially more than the average 10% expected in a school. This could be explained by several factors, including – of course – that we are a selective grammar school. But we firmly believe that our EAA policy adds great educational value to even the most able student’s experience at school. Just as importantly, it increases every student’s chances of being stretched to her full potential.
- A student with exceptional ability is one who achieves, or has the ability to achieve, at a level significantly in advance of the peer group. This may be in all areas of the curriculum or in a limited range. (Eyre, 1999)
- A student with exceptional aptitude is one who is in the top 30% of the pupil population of our school or class group, and who has the capacity for or demonstrates high levels of performance in an academic or practical area. This definition acknowledges the selective nature of Fort Pitt.
How are students identified as having Exceptional Ability and Aptitude?
When a student is identified as EAA, it’s a decision taken on the basis of how well she is doing at that moment in time and by the relative standards of the school. Identification does not mean that in another school or context the student would be identified or that the student will continue to remain identified in the future.
|Methods of Identification|
|Teacher nomination||Assessment results||Specialist teacher identification|
|Parental nomination||Peer nomination||Self nomination|
Able but disaffected students and ‘coasters’ will be identified by individual staff, departments and the school’s monitoring systems. Progress and achievement is measured against individual target grades. Such students are supported by individual teachers, department surgeries, members of Student Support, and a variety of mentors.
How are parents notified?
When a student is recognised as having EAA in any subject, her parents will be informed by letter and given detailed information as to how their daughter will be supported in that subject area. This letter will provide details of additional provision, perhaps taking place after-school or at the weekend.
Enrichment and additional provision – in school
School clubs and taster sessions, e.g. Music, PE, Art, Astronomy, Debating Society, among many more. The full enrichment programme is available through our website. (In many of these clubs able juniors work alongside senior students.)
- Opportunities for performance at school, regional and national level, including school concerts, maths challenges, science competitions, and sporting tournaments.
- Fast-tracking groups (e.g. potential Oxbridge & Russell Group students, MFL careers and learning guidance, and the 3 A’s Group – Aim, Achieve, Aspire).
- Opportunities for students to work as facilitators for special events (Space Day, Shakespeare Morning, etc).
- Partnerships with other schools (e.g. links with Robert Napier and Phoenix; visits from international schools; supporting maths, science and languages lessons in primary schools; the Medway Challenge Cup).
- Working with other agencies (e.g. MEBP, Rotary).
- Working with businesses (e.g. Kent Messenger, Kent Profile Magazine, work awareness programmes, Rotary interviews).
- ‘Alright to be Bright Week’, which will sometimes be renamed for promotional purposes. The week encompasses a variety of activities both within school and in national competitions.
- Annual MENSA testing for selected students.
Provision – out of school
- National schemes (e.g. Peterhouse and Cambridge essay competitions; Academy Excellence Awards; Oxford University Extension Opportunity for Year 7; DUX Awards).
- Regional schemes (e.g. G&T Christchurch Canterbury; Medway and Kent Extension opportunities; Medway Easter & Summer School; University of SE England Regional G&T Partnership; UEA opportunities).
- Competitions and festivals (e.g. Rotary competitions; MEBP special days; BAE Systems Engineering Taster Week).
- Gifted and Talented Conference – a yearly event in London open to Years 10 and 11.
As far as higher education is concerned, there is no reason why our students should not be considering the top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, as well as other Russell Group universities.