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Gifted and Talented/Most Able Pupils - Terminology

The terminology for this group of pupils is varied and changing. Over the years many terms have been used, often being grouped into ‘gifted and talented’ and more recently 'most able' (Ofsted).

The Ofsted school inspection handbook (January 2014) states that it is 'important to test the school’s response to individual needs by observing how well it helps all pupils to make progress and fulfil their potential'  and that it may be relevant to pay particular attention to the achievement of ' the highest attainers'.

The recent report ‘Educating the Highly Able’ produced the Sutton Trust (July 2012) recommends ‘the confusing and catch-all construct “gifted and talented be abandoned’ and suggests the focus, as far as schools are concerned, should be on those capable of excellence in school subjects, which the report terms, ‘highly able’.

Potential Plus (formally National Association for Gifted Children) prefers the phrase, ‘high learning potential’.

Whatever the terminology, schools should ensure that all pupils are challenged and make good progress in school.


Most Able Children in the Classroom

In practical classroom terms most able children are likely to present themselves to teachers in one or another of three groups:

  • Those whose outstanding ability is so evident (and in some cases linked with behaviours that cause difficulties in the classroom), that teachers seek to develop specific strategies to cope with their high ability,
  • A much larger group of children with high levels of ability and achievement
  • Children with high levels of ability, but who are not achieving at a high level.

Able pupils can have/be :

  • Good all-rounders
  • High ability in one area only
  • Of high ability but with low motivation
  • Of good verbal ability but having poor writing skills
  • Very able with a short attention span
  • Very able with limited interpersonal skills
  • Keen to disguise their abilities
  • SEN (think of children on the Autistic spectrum)
  • Behavioural difficulties