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 identify about 10% of each year group based on their potential target grades.  Precise numbers may vary from one academic year to another as the abilities of each year group may differ.

How do we identify GAMA students at Blenheim?

Blenheim’s Whole School GAMA lists for each year group are compiled using national baseline data (such as MidYIS tests, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 levels).  In addition, each Department produces their own GAMA register (based on nominations made by subject staff).

In some cases a Department may not have any additional students as the Whole School GAMA list may include their key students, whereas in other Departments up to 5-10 students may be identified in each Year group.

These names are then collated centrally by the GAMA co-ordinator so that both the Whole School and Department groups can be monitored.

How often are GAMA lists reviewed by staff?

Department GAMA lists are reviewed twice a year (each January 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 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 will 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 GAMA?

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.

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. A number of different activities (both in-house and off-site) are organised by individual departments for their Department GAMA students.  These will include the following:

Department

Planned Activity

Geography

Trip to the Natural History Museum which has a excellent section on the structure and geology of the earth looking at volcanic and seismic hazards.

Art

GAMA KS3 & KS4 students are invited to art club and these pupils are then asked to enter national art competition this year.

RS

GAMA & reward trip in the Summer term to the Wintershall Estate for the life of Christ. 

Drama

Trip to a musical in the Summer term.

Tech

Trip to Thorpe Park on their STEM day in March or The Design Museum.

Supporting applications to the Arkwright Scholarship (Year 11).

French

Taking part in French speaking competitions.

Maths

Entering students to the individual Senior, Intermediate and Junior Maths Challenges and into the Senior Team Challenge.

English

 

Science – Physics

British Physics Olympiad 2019 – Year 10 Challenge. 

AS Challenge 2020

Science – Chemistry

UK Chemistry Olympiad (2020).  For AS students.

Entries to be submitted by 31 December 2019.

Top of the Bench competition (run by RSC local sections, entry must be a team including 2 x Year 9, 1 x Year 10 and 1 x Year 11 students).  Students are entered in the Autumn term.

Science – Biology

Biology Challenge 2019 – open to Year 9 and Year 10 students.

Intermediate Biology Olympiad – for AS students.

Music

Trip to a concert hall in the Autumn term to see a full orchestral film music concert.

Sociology

Year 9 and 10 students will be entered into a photo competition run by the University of Cambridge.  Students are expected to represent the selected element of Sociology using photographs only.

Summer for both Year 9 and 10 to the Royal Courts of Justice.

In addition 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 December/January)

Year 10

GAMA Exploring University day (May/June)

Years 9-11

GAMA Careers Evening (November)

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:

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.

Potential Plus UK


London Gifted and Talented is an organisation that was set up to stretch and challenge more able students and build the capacity of their educators to do the same.  The Teacher Tools Section of 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.

London Gifted and Talented

Summary of the Blenheim GAMA Programme

  • 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 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