Almost one third of Ofsted reports make a negative judgement on provision for the more able.  Here’s a summary of issues based on the last 200 primary Ofsted reports:


1. Differentiation in lessons is weak. Not enough evidence has been found that teachers are setting out to extend and challenge their more able pupils. Differentiation is by outcome i.e. no differentiation at all.

2. The focus is on borderliners and sometimes on SEN, but not on the able. We all know why teachers do that. (This will have to change when the new floor target is based on progress among all pupils.)

3. The more able sometimes get more work, but not more challenge. It’s a sort of punishment for being bright and being quick: you get more work to do.  Clever children soon work out that they need to pretend to work more slowly. Better ask them a really good question about the work.

4. The more able are the bored able. There’s too little to excite and motivate them. They are victims of a particular myth about the more able that they are eager self-starters. Getting top marks every time is not motivating enough. They need intellectual stimulation.

5. Too little evidence of additional challenge.  This may well refer to masterclasses, competitions, seating them together sometimes or setting.

6. The work offered is too safe and bland. Teachers don’t take a lot of risks on behalf of the more able, at least not in front of inspectors.  Keep or display some examples to show that you do sometimes reach for the stars. 

7. The more able have low visibility.  They don’t feature much in planning (though SEN do), or in CPD, or in tracking unless they start to plummet. Some schools lack a person responsible for the more able. Get one.

8. Lack of policy.  You are obliged to provide a policy on the website, and after years without paper mountains, it might be a good idea to agree in writing among the staff how you do provide for able pupils.


For courses on Improving Provision for the More Able see www.philipallan.co.uk