Gifted and More Able
What is Gifted and More Able (GAMA) and why do we run a GAMA programme at Blenheim?
The Gifted and More Able (GAMA) programme is an initiative that has been running at Blenheim since 2007 that sets out to ensure that the special needs of more able students are met as an entitlement.
The initiative aims to provide our potential high achievers with the tools they need to meet or exceed their potential and therefore to be able to successfully compete with students from grammar schools and independent schools from the local area and across the country. By ensuring that all students have access to activities and teaching that appropriately challenges them, the aim is to prevent underachievement of our most able students so that in the future they can gain places at the country’s top Universities and ultimately can be successful in the world of work.
The particular focus within Blenheim is on aspiration, and inspiring individuals to aim for the highest grades in all the work they do.
The ‘Believe and Achieve’ ethos of the school maintains a culture where high achievement is valued and high expectations are held by all. We aim to provide the best possible education to meet the individual needs of all students and to help them achieve their full potential. This links with our normal process of differentiation, recognising GAMA as a special need. It is felt that students who have demonstrated high achievement, and whose previous assessments indicate possible future high achievement should be recognised by the school and supported in their development, within and outside of the classroom.
Agreed best practice also suggests that by extending the top end, it not only raises the bar for the most able but also brings benefits to other students who aspire to try and match their peers.
What are the main characteristics of a Gifted student?
- Think quickly and accurately
- Show creative flair in lessons and/or homework
- Demonstrate good communicative skills
- Show outstanding potential
- Be an outstanding leader or team member
- Demonstrate a high level of attainment across a range of subjects.
How many students are involved in the whole school GAMA programme?
Central Government advice is that Gifted and More Able initiatives are usually aimed at the top 5% to 10% of the students in any school, regardless of the status of that school.
At Blenheim we have decided to start off our whole school GAMA programme with a relatively small select group of students towards the end of Year 7 and then increase the number of identified students year on year through to significantly larger groups in Year 11. Whilst numbers can vary from one academic year to another, we would normally expect to have approximately:
|10||Year 7 students identified as being whole school GAMA|
|16||Year 8 students identified as being whole school GAMA|
|20||Year 9 students identified as being whole school GAMA|
|22||Year 10 students identified as being whole school GAMA|
|24||Year 11 students identified as being whole school GAMA|
How do we identify GAMA students at Blenheim?
Blenheim’s Whole School GAMA lists for each year group are compiled by using a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. National baseline data (such as MidYIS tests, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 levels) is cross referenced with information from Department GAMA registers (based on nominations made by subject staff) to formulate the Whole School GAMA groups for each year.
All departments are asked to keep an up-dated Department GAMA register of approximately the top 5% and top 10% of students in each year group in their subject. These names are then collated centrally by the GAMA co-ordinator with those students appearing most often (with extra weighting being given to the Core subjects) being highlighted as possible Whole School GAMA students. In year 7, this information is then cross referenced to standard national MidYIS test data and to those students achieving level 5s in Key Stage 2 SATs (to pick up possible underachievers to either add in to the programme or track in the future).
Additionally, at the end of Y9 and end of Y10, Whole School GAMA group students are given the opportunity to nominate any of their peers who they feel have been missed by the above selection process and where appropriate these individuals may also be included. At any stage students (and/or parents) can make contact with the GAMA co-ordinator to inquire about how close they (their child) are to being put on to the Whole School GAMA list.
How often are GAMA lists reviewed by staff?
Department GAMA lists are reviewed twice a year (each Jan and June), at which point individuals may be removed from or added to GAMA lists according to the progress they have made within subjects. The Whole School GAMA lists in each year are then altered accordingly. As part of this process it is made very clear to all Whole School GAMA students that there is great competition for places on the programme and that as a result of these reviews, students may be moved out of the current Whole School GAMA groups to be replaced by other higher achieving students. Pleasingly there is always quite fierce competition for places, with many students previously just outside the groups wanting to find out what else they can be doing in order to be included. It is hoped that this competitive spirit will help keep those currently in the groups on their toes! Where students are in danger of being moved out of a Whole School GAMA group, they and their parents will be notified that they are being put on a period of probation, during which time the student involved will have a few months to prove that they deserve to keep their place on the programme.
How will I know if my child has been identified as being GAMA in a particular subject?
Subject staff issue stickers (as shown below) to all students who have been identified as being GAMA within their subject area. These should be stuck on to students’ exercise books / folders to highlight their status within that subject and used to help track whether they are continuing to work at a GAMA level throughout each academic year.
How might Blenheim teachers support GAMA students in their lessons?
All GAMA students are advised to follow the EBAC in Key Stage 4. In addition to their full entitlement to the National Curriculum, students identified on the register and informally within the classroom will be given access to curriculum extension and enrichment within and outside the curriculum. An effective classroom environment will deliver pace, breadth and depth in teaching and learning and challenge through differentiation by content, learning process and outcome. The identified GAMA will normally work within their peer cohort, but specific opportunities will be provided for them to allow extra challenge to take place whether in classwork or homework.
Since it is essential that all staff are aware of the names of all the GAMA students that they teach in each of their classes and the fact that they should be achieving highly, all teaching staff are asked to highlight the names of the Department GAMA and Whole School GAMA students that they teach on their class lists and seating plans. This should then raise awareness of the individuals who should regularly be stretched and challenged and ensure that their progress is being monitored relative to their true potential. Where whole school GAMA students slip below the levels expected of them, subject staff then make contact with the GAMA co-ordinator to raise concerns that are followed up with the individual concerned and where necessary, their parents.
How will I know if my child has been identified as being on the whole school GAMA programme?
It is important to note that the Whole School GAMA groups are not based entirely on the number of department nominations that a student receives and therefore it is definitely possible for some students who are identified in a small number of subjects to be invited to join the Whole School GAMA groups ahead of individuals who have more nominations.
The parents of those students who have been invited to be part of the Whole School GAMA programme will be notified by post, and invited to attend either the Key Stage 3 or Key Stage 4 annual GAMA parents’ information evenings that are held in September of each year.
When do whole school GAMA students meet and what do they do in their meetings?
All Whole School GAMA group meetings are timetabled to take place during morning registration in Boserup on the Humanities corridor, with a prompt 8.45a.m. start.
GAMA Group Meetings
|Week A||Week B|
|Monday||Year 8 (main group)||Year 9 (main group)|
|Tuesday||Year 10 (main group)||Year 10 (sub group / small
group mentoring / General Studies AS)
|Wednesday||Year 11 (main group)||Year 11 (main group)|
|Thursday||Year 7 (summer term only)||Year 12 (Young Journalists)|
|Friday||Year 11 (individual / small
|Year 11 (sub group)|
As well as analysing and evaluating their on-going academic progress and setting academic targets, students in the Whole School GAMA groups also spend some of their meeting time undertaking ‘Critical Thinking’ based activities and challenges, designed to get them analysing, evaluating and debating ideas and concepts that will hopefully take them out of their comfort zones and make their brain work harder.
All students are also given age appropriate advice in relation to Careers and subject choices at KS4 and KS5 by the GAMA co-ordinator and the school’s Careers Teacher. The more in depth mentoring programme in place for students in Year 11 also covers areas such as revision skills; exam technique; time management and dealing with stress as well as more subject specific sessions that are geared towards students achieving as many of the highest A* grades as possible.
What extra things do we do for our GAMA students outside of lessons?
Outside of normal lessons, GAMA students are given a variety of extra opportunities to help extend themselves and gain new skills and experiences. As well as a number of different activities (both in-house and off-site) that are organised by individual departments for their department GAMA students, whole school GAMA students are given the chance to get involved in some or all of the following extra events:
|Year 8/9||GAMA trip to Surrey University (normally in Dec / Jan)|
|Year 9||GAMA ‘Reaching for A*’ day (June)|
|Year 10||GAMA Enterprise day (Nov)|
|Year 10||GAMA Exploring Oxford day (May)|
|Years 9-11||GAMA Careers Evening (Nov)|
In recent years, we have also been offering a small number of Year 10 students the opportunity to complete an AS in General Studies which has helped develop their essay writing skills; improve their knowledge of topical issues and debates and prepare them for their future Sixth form studies.
Where can I find out further information on Gifted and More Able?
The following websites may prove to be helpful to both parents and students alike:
The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) - soon to be renamed Potential Plus UK - is an independent charity which works with the whole family to support the child who is gifted and talented. This website offers parents of children with high learning potential the support needed for their children to thrive successfully.
IGGY is an international network for gifted 13-18 years old students aimed at challenging its members to help them reach their full potential.
This website provides a range of resources and advice on all aspects of gifted and talented education with links for parents and students including advice on how to support your child at home.
Summary of Blenheim GAMA Programme at Blenheim
- Ensure GAMA students are appropriately and regularly identified and that all staff are made aware of them.
- Hold a central register of GAMA students to enable them to be appropriately targeted and monitored.
- Encourage departments to provide for GAMA students in their subject area.
- Encourage departments to monitor the progress of GAMA students within their area in line with whole-school assessment policy.
- Provide a mentoring programme for Key Stage 4 whole school GAMA students who are in danger of underachieving.
- Provide an opportunity for GAMA students in all year groups to meet on a regular basis to discuss their progress, successes and concerns and to exercise their brains with a variety of higher order thinking activities
- Provide an opportunity for KS4 GAMA students to talk to older GAMA students about their secrets to success.
- Provide options choice and careers advice through work done alongside the school’s Careers’ teacher.
- Provide a broad range of enrichment opportunities, in and out of school, which will inspire students to accelerate student progress further