THE GIFTED & HIGHLY ABLE.
As a selective school, we recognise that we cater for a significant number of pupils who are highly able, often across a range of subject areas or who show a particular talent in one or more skills, whether these are in the sporting, artistic, musical or academic arenas.
Provision for the gifted and highly able starts with either recommendations from the Primary School (based on their assessments and national tests) or through the results of our own entrance examination. This is then used to invite a number of the most able to a Summer School, held jointly with Dover Grammar School for Girls, at DGSB in August, where they can work on cross-curricular themes in small groups of highly motivated students.
During Key Stage 3 use of the regular assessment (STAR marks) every 10 weeks enables the school to identify any other highly able pupils and monitor their progress, setting personal targets as appropriate. From Year 8 onwards setting is used in Mathematics to allow pupils to progress at a pace commensurate with their ability, whilst in other subject areas the subject teacher uses differentiation to engage all the pupils. This is backed up by use of Commendations, Distinctions, Subject Certificates, Subject Prizes and Commendation Prizes at the annual Lower School Prizegiving, and similar recognition of achievement for older pupils after their GCSE and A Levels at our Guest Evening. There are also well established target setting arrangements in Key Stage 4 and the Sixth Form to set challenges for all.
Extra-curricular provision is often valuable in allowing the gifted or highly able pupil to excel in a wide range of activities – the school is rightly proud of its Sport, Art and Music, and among the other regular activities are the Combined Cadet Force (CCF), Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, Archaeology Club, Chess Club and (for Sixth Form students) the Young Enterprise scheme; (in 2002 DGSB students were particularly successful in this, winning the regional award). Use is also made of external competitions, and pupils encouraged to enter them wherever possible (last year a Sixth Form student represented Great Britain in the prestigious World Science Competition held in the USA, and came third).
In Year 12 GCSE and other assessment evidence is used to identify students for whom Oxford or Cambridge entrance is a realistic ambition, and to support them (via a visit to College Open Days, regular meetings with senior members of staff & practice interviews etc.) This has led to regular success in recent years in students achieving places at prestigious centres of higher education.
As with any educational issue, the key to success in providing an appropriate, but challenging, curriculum to the gifted or highly able pupil lies in the expertise of the teaching staff. To this end we have made provision of relevant in-service training a high priority over the last few years, and will continue to do so in the future, both for individual members of staff and the teaching staff as a whole.