Higher Effort, Attainment and Talent

Gifted and Talented Students at RPA

Coordinator: Mr Potapov

How do we stretch the ablest students at RPA?

At RPA, we use the term ‘HEAT’ to describe our most able students because they show higher effort, attainment or talent. Effort is included in the list because we know that intelligence is not fixed and that students can make huge progress if they work hard and are resilient in the face of difficulties.

How do we identify higher attaining students?

These students have an ability to process various kinds of information better than their peers. They have and consistently do perform in the top 10% in Cognitive Ability Tests (CATs). This corresponds to an average score of above 120 or a score of 125+ in one area. CATs may not accurately determine how weak a student is, but they do correctly estimate students who are beyond a “threshold” in high intelligence. 'Talented' students usually refers to students who show skill in practical subjects such as art, drama, music or sport.

Genes only partially determine our fate. Genes turn on and off in response to the environment they find themselves in. We as school staff have the exciting potential to switch on this capacity, perhaps for the first time, finding opportunities that let a student hear the notes which resonate with their higher abilities. We also hold responsibility if the child’s brain is saying “There’s no challenge here, I’ll just wing this”. These are students who should also have the capacity to make up for their weaknesses by using their strengths, in the way that a partially sighted person might use their sense of touch.

Being told that they are gifted can sometimes have an adverse effect on students so we try and think of this in terms of CAPACITY rather than a quality they possess.

Role of the Coordinator

As Coordinator for HEAT students at RPA, I work with students in Years 7 - 10 (we want Year 11 to focus on their exams) to implement a programme of activities. Typical activities include:

  • Young Publishers
  • Brilliant Club
  • Turning research into media
  • Cross-curricular design projects
  • Game design
  • HEAT Club
  • Mentoring of Year 7 HEAT students by Year 10

In addition, students are ability-grouped in most subjects and all teachers are expected to set work which challenges and stretches all. To support staff in this, I deliver training to share new resources and ideas and to bring some of the skills deployed in the programme of activities into the classroom.

At Richmond Park Academy we offer a range of projects and opportunities to our most able students:

  • RPA Young Publishers: This team meets regularly to prepare the content, marketing and other things that running a publishing house entails. Visit twitter.com/rpayoungpublish.
  • App design: One group is designing a self-tracking app to help young people like themselves improve their lives
  • Faraday Challenge: Every year we compete against other schools in this national science and engineering competition
  • We Day and First Give: It takes a lot of skill to create a successful charity campaign and we have seen some excellent ones over the years for local charities like SPEAR and Off the Record.
  • UCL extended project: Working with UCL a team of students took on an architecture/design challenge against other schools.
  • Debating: We will be holding tryouts for the debate team to compete against schools in the borough and AET network.
  • There will also be a range of events and clubs held throughout the year by individual departments.