More able learners tend to be adept at switching to innovative procedures in solving a task and they tend to prefer complex and cognitively-challenging problem solving. So at NCS we encourage our pupils to develop their curiosity, intellectual risk-taking, and their wit as they develop their creative thinking skills. This creative thinking helps pupils to be more effective when usual educational props (teachers or parents) are not around; it creates possibilities for solving future problems we have not anticipated; it leads to more powerful consequences in life; and of course it can produce great satisfaction and joy.
Because more able pupils come in all shapes and sizes, we require maximum flexibility and the use of a wide range of strategies when addressing their needs. We are lucky to have pupils who are talented in a number of different areas, complementing their academic work: music, drama, art, sport, ICT, and leadership. We strive to avoid the problems that can occur where pupils experience extra pressure from teachers as a result of being labelled ‘gifted’ or where others expect them to be too clever to enjoy normal relationships. Our planning of teaching and learning at NCS includes differentiating the curriculum according to the needs and nature of each boy, including gifted and talented pupils. We set high expectations, an appropriate and challenging curriculum, appropriate and challenging teaching methods, and we encourage home-school collaboration.
At New College School, we encourage a general atmosphere of enquiry, both inside and outside the classroom. We provide good role models, recognise achievements through the NCS-wide rewards policy, monitor and review regularly, involve pupils in target setting, use gifts and talents in a productive way, give study support and tutoring in study skills, and provide enrichment opportunities. We also take care to provide an environment which is conducive to learning, as well as offering opportunities for social and emotional development.
More able pupils at NCS are given a secure classroom environment in which they can feel at ease in displaying their ability. They are able to relax and have fun, and they are given appropriate levels of praise, like all pupils here. They experience challenge, sometimes perhaps to the point of not completing a task correctly – they are viewed, like all pupils, as having strengths and areas which need to be worked on. They are given the confidence to ask searching questions in the knowledge that they can rely on a considered response and a respectful discussion.
Opportunities at NCS for enrichment among more able pupils include: those which enable pupils to explore aspects of a subject in greater depth, or to focus on the more complex aspects of a subject; those which offer pupils opportunities for practice, coaching, and the mastery of specific skills; those which enable pupils to use and apply existing knowledge whilst being freed from the constraints of the syllabus or of timetabling; those which aim to introduce pupils to new experiences and ideas to broaden horizons and/or to raise expectations.