Example of an above average no bias profile

This example shows that Gabriel Bester has scores that are average or above average (stanines 5, 7 and 8) in all four batteries, and the overlapping confidence bands for the four batteries indicate an even or no bias profile of above average scores. It is important that students like Gabriel are identified at the earliest possible opportunity upon entering the school. These students are likely to become bored or disaffected if not given sufficiently challenging or engaging work. Expectations for their attainment across the curriculum need to be appropriately high.

  • This is a balanced profile with no bias, demonstrating strong verbal and spatial abilities.
  • The student should perform at a very high level in most areas of learning, including writing, discussion, paired work and creative tasks. Equally, they are likely to be good at visualisation and should learn well when working with pictures, diagrams, 3D objects, mind maps and other tangible methods of learning.
  • The student may enjoy active learning methods such as modelling, demonstrating and simulating, as well as engaging with stimulating written material.
  • The student is likely to enjoy alternative ways of completing a task, and teachers should provide the opportunity for a student to present their learning in different ways that still address the identified criteria.
  • The student’s abilities suggest that they should be supported in developing their independent learning skills to ensure that achievement matches potential.
  • The student’s attainment should be at a high level in both language-based subjects and subjects such as science, technology, design and geography which will draw on their spatial ability. Where this is not supported by appropriate data, teachers should identify why achievement does not appear to match potential and use the approaches described in this resource to stimulate, enrich and extend the learning.

What does this look like in the classroom?

Students with above average and unbiased cognitive abilities are usually self-motivated and independent learners.

  • They tend to learn very quickly and need very little practice to gain competence in a new skill.
  • They benefit from a fast pace of instruction.
  • They will be good at asking questions, forming hypotheses, predicting and applying examples to new situations.
  • They are most engaged when allowed to discover relationships themselves using ‘guided discovery’ approaches.
  • Teachers should encourage them to follow their interests and enable them to develop independent study skills such as use of the library, the internet and other resources.

However, such students need to be challenged, inspired and motivated with materials, projects and problems that are more demanding than those used for typical students. If this does not happen, there is the danger that these students become part of what has been called the ‘quietly disaffected’ – that is, able students who do not realise their potential because they are insufficiently challenged.

In their 2015 report, the UK school inspection body, Ofsted, indicated that many of the most able students were not routinely getting the information, advice and guidance they needed to develop a selfassured approach to preparing for their future studies or their next steps into employment or training, and that this situation had not changed since the previous report published two years earlier.

Extension work that specifically develops deeper thinking will provide opportunities for a greater challenge. Above-average students generally enjoy group work and are valuable group members.

  • They can learn well both in groups with other able peers, through an additional element of challenge, and in mixed-ability groups, where they can help to explain, summarise discussions and model higher-order thinking skills for other students.

Throughout the learning process, it is important that teachers develop high expectations of such students but continue to provide support and encouragement along with the challenge to achieve.

There are two ways to interpret the phrase ‘stretch and challenge’. On the one hand, it relates to whole-class teaching and the importance of stretching and challenging every pupil’s thinking. On the other, it relates to individuals and the importance of pushing the thinking of the most able pupils. Both interpretations are equally valid and essential components of great teaching.

Gershon (2019)

High-achieving, no bias learners often share common characteristics that can be systematically developed at a whole-school and individualteacher level through content (what is taught) and process (how it is taught).

  • These characteristics include a sense of self-awareness about personal learning attributes, a high level of fluency in literacy and numeracy, good critical-thinking skills, well-developed social skills and effective speaking and listening skills.
  • Teachers can further encourage the development of curricular breadth (linking learning to real-world situations) and curricular depth (going beyond syllabus requirements) in a high-challenge, low-stress learning environment.
  • Students may benefit from opportunities to teach or coach others

Many schools use CAT4 as part of their process for identifying gifted students. CAT4 is frequently used because a focus on reasoning ability can identify students who may not be found through an analysis of purely curriculum-related attainments. CAT4 can also provide a measure of the student’s abilities against a national sample, not just in relation to his or her peers within the school. For example, we can see that, in comparison with the UK norm group, Gabriel is in the top 7% of his age group on the verbal reasoning score and in the top 11% on the non-verbal reasoning and spatial scores. Based on this, it is very likely that Gabriel would be identified as gifted.

For the extremely high-scoring student, a score in stanine 9 (an SAS of 127 or above and in the top 4% of the age group) on any one of the four CAT4 batteries provides evidence to suggest that the student is gifted.

Examples of strategies for an above average no bias profile

It is important that teachers recognise the special needs of gifted students and understand that specific support is required to ensure that their potential is realised. Their ability may give the impression that they are self-sufficient and do not need teacher support, but focused challenge at an appropriate level is essential if such students are to avoid becoming bored or even disaffected. Teachers should be mindful that gifted students may even be isolated or misunderstood by their peers.

In the classroom, these students will frequently finish work more quickly than their peers. Accordingly, teachers must engage students in more challenging learning activities. These can focus on deepening knowledge in the subject area that peers are working on, or on developing and supporting special areas of interest the student may have. It is important that students are not simply doing work that is ‘more of the same’ as this is a quick route toward boredom or disaffection. Extension menus and independent study projects are two ways to accomplish this goal, while allowing the student some control over their work.

1. Extension menus

Extension menus offer choices in the way that students demonstrate their understanding and can include a range of different options. Students may be able to select from a set of assignments, with each offering objectives depending on their CAT4 profile. This option allows students to show their learning in a more challenging mode than they might be used to.

2. Independent study

2. Independent study Independent study projects offer a further level of independence. It is essential that such projects are investigative activities and artistic productions in which the learner assumes the role of a first-hand inquirer: thinking, feeling and acting like a practising professional.

Independent study projects need to be carefully planned. Teachers could adopt the Enrichment Triad Model (developed by Renzulli and Reis, 1991) and provide extension activities in three distinct tiers:

  • general exploratory activities, in which students are introduced to a variety of topics and interest areas;
  • group training activities which develop creativity and research skills;
  • investigations of real-world situations or problems of personal interest to the student.

In all independent study models, it is important for teachers to provide a structure that includes a careful balance between initial teacher direction and subsequent student self-directed inquiry.

These models usually involve a student focus on developing skills and attitudes that promote an understanding of the value of lifelong autonomous learning. They may also include presentations to both small and large groups with students being encouraged to develop an awareness of the needs of different audiences.

It is important that, in both extension menus and independent study projects, teachers are seen to value the student activity rather than present it as simply additional work for ‘finishing first’ or ‘being clever’ (Table 1).

Table 1. Examples of specific activities for different subject areas

  Extension activities Independent study projects
Ages 5-8    
Languages Play games that develop early critical-thinking skills (for example, You Can’t Take Me! in which children have to justify keeping objects that the teacher wants to throw away). Create a café role-play environment to explore learning a range of new language words and phrases (for example, French, Spanish or Chinese).
Mathematics Encourage alternative ways to solve the same simple calculation. Use maths as part of a classroom culture that support problem solving in all subjects - for example using guidance and practical activities from the nrich project: https://nrich.maths.org/10334
Science Use a concept cartoon challenge to present a scientific problem (for example, will a snowman wearing a coat melt more quickly or more slowly than one without a coat?). Use free online resources to design a spacesuit and find out how an astronaut feels when wearing one (for example, https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/principia-space-diary-design-your-spacesuit-for-ks1-ks2-p2-7-y1-6-11461467).
Humanities and Arts Water drop art: create dramatic artworks and explore surface tension using waxed paper and coloured water. Develop a walk-through-time project in which children use interview, archive material and realia to create a visual walk through their family history.
Ages 9-13    
Languages Devise a PowerPoint presentation on a chosen fiction text studied in English. Use an online language programme such as http://www.onestopenglish.com/ teenagers/a-time-to-travel/brazil-lost-inthe-rainforest/ to model the creation of an audio EAL support file
Mathematics Use maths challenge sites such as https:// parallel.org.uk/ to provide a wide range of extension activities. Create a maths trail for younger learners using a template and guidance notes.
Science Challenge students to create a scientific model (for example, a cell, a heart or a battery) out of everyday materials. Use the resources at https://www.arkive. org/education/teaching-resources-11-14 to explore change, using a classroom presentation, teacher notes and activity cards to support the project.
Humanities and Arts Research and give a presentation on a specific historical event linked to curriculum study in history or geography (for example, the eruption of Krakatoa). Choose an artwork (for example, a painting, music or dance) and research the links between the artwork and its historical context.
Ages 14-16    
Languages Research, create and give a drama-based scenario presentation on a literacy character currently being studied. Explore the language development opportunities in a PGL Leadership Course (https://create.arduino.cc/ projecthub/JulienChateau/spideruino5915e9?ref=tag&ref_id=lego&offset=0).
Mathematics Ask students Why? and What if…? to generate deeper thinking, before giving extension activities such as solving magic square problems. Undertake an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Students follow an individual research project on a topic of their choice and receive an internationally recognised qualification on completion. Projects can be multidisciplinary and can allow students to further their interest in STEM and gain experience of extended practical work.
Science Explore the Arduino Hub and identify Lego projects that students could undertake independently (for example, making a robotic arachnid https://create. arduino.cc/projecthub/JulienChateau/ spideruino-5915e9?ref=tag&ref_ id=lego&offset=0). Explore the range of real-world STEM projects from UK-based Crest Awards (https://www.crestawards.org/).
Humanities and Arts Explore the Doodle for Google site and encourage students to research and then develop a Google doodle to be entered in competition (https://doodles.google.com/ d4g/). Use NMUN to provide students with a forum to hone skills in diplomacy, negotiation, critical thinking, compromise, public speaking, writing and research (https://www.nmun.org/).​