HIGHLY ABLE PROJECT

This project was started by a group of parents concerned about the the implementation of the Highly Able programme at ACS Cobham.

Background

A number of parents were approaching the PSO indicating disappointment and confusion with the implementation of the Highly Able programme during the 2015/16 school year.  This programme had been started at the school 2 years before and there have been some personnel changes and direction changes as it has matured.

By Spring 2016 the PSO board had received significant feedback from parents on the Highly Able Programme and felt that the points needed to be reviewed and presented to the school administration.

The main issues identified included:

  • Communication – including when and children are chosen for thto be inlcuded in the programme, what provision will be provided and followup with parents about how that provision is progressing in the classroom.
  • Selection – including how children are selected for the programme and whether this is on a year-by-year basis.
  • Provision – in LS there was a feeling that there was not enough teacher involvement in the provision (too much iPad work); in MS parents were concerned that the provision was at recess or lunchtime and that their children did not want to participate because it meant the loss of their social time in the school day; in HS parents were concerned that too much of the provision was non-school led extracurrricular and not enough differentiation and in-class provision to challenge students.
  • Substance – parents were concerned that there was more style of substance in the programme – only 2 coordinators for the entire school, no teaching time dedicated to providing separate class instruction, enrichment, accelerated classes and/or differentiation.

Response

In September 2016 a group of PSO representatives sat down with Simon Wright and Tony Eysele to discuss the issues presented.

At the time of the meeting there had been a number of behind the scenes developments in the HA programme being implemented across the spectrum of the school that parents and children would start to see in the 2016/17 school year.

In particular the school was building a culture of differentiation and enrichment in the classroom through professional development.  All of the MS and some of the HS science teachers, had recently, held a meeting with a specialist to learn about and discuss how they could implement differentiation in the classroom. Future sessions are planned for the English and Maths departments.

The HA coordinator was also attending all EC and LS grade level planning meetings to ensure the needs of HA children were being taken into account at the planning level.

The school also saw the HA programme on the spectrum of services along with EAL and Resource and over the last year the teachers and Simon worked hard to build the curriculum database and this year it is being expanded to include documentation and assessment points that are appropriate for HA, EAL and Resource students. The focus is to get the Maths and English sections finished this year.

Conclusion

The PSO representatives were happy that the school was addressing many of the issues within the HA programme and that the programme was continuing to evolve and define itself more thoroughly.   They thought it best to allow the school more time to roll out the provision and implement.

 

Update – September 2017

The school continues to make changes to the HA programme – in particular it has changed the name of the programme to “Challenge and Enrichment” to more closely align with the non-selective nature of the school and hired a new coordinator for the MS and HS.

Parents are encouraged to review the school’s webpage on the programme: http://acscobhamhighlyable.weebly.com/ as it appears that this programme will continue to change.

Committee Coordinator