Most able

At St Michael's we aim to provide challenging work for all students, including the most able. We avoid the term 'gifted and talented' as this contradicts the 'Growth mindset' that we are engendering with our students which states that all students can become 'able' with the right amount of practice, determination, resilience and staff guidance.

Staff are encouraged to stretch and challenge the most able students through a variety of means ensuring that the most able are not merely provided with 'harder work' which may demotivate. The focus should instead be on higher level thinking skills, problem solving and independent learning.

Our most able are encouraged to develop leadership skills both in and out of the classroom. In addition, they are encouraged to take part in national competitons such as 'Maths challenge' and 'Young Scientist'.

As a school we have strong links with local universities in the city of Liverpool, especially with Hope University and we provide aspirational visits and motivational sessions on campus for our students.

At St Michael's we aim to provide challenging work for all students, including the most able. We avoid the term 'gifted and talented' as this contradicts the 'Growth mindset' that we are engendering with our students which states that all students can become 'able' with the right amount of practice, determination, resilience and staff guidance.

Staff are encouraged to stretch and challenge the most able students through a variety of means ensuring that the most able are not merely provided with 'harder work' which may demotivate. The focus should instead be on higher level thinking skills, problem solving and independent learning. These higher level thinking skills are elicited through extended use of questioning and the use of SOLO and Blooms taxonomy in the planning process for all schemes and learning outcomes. Our curriculum is designed not only for inclusion but also the potential for extension of all.

Through out their time at St Michaels our Most Able students are catered for in a number of different ways both in and out of the classroom. They are encouraged to develop leadership skills starting from their first year at St Michaels in our Year 7 Coaching Programme. The programme gives students transferable skills that can allow them to coach and lead in many different situations giving them the confidence to grow and eventually become leaders within their field. These skills can be applied in a variety of situations offered to the students during their time at St Michaels - including the coaching of peers and younger students as they move up through the school and external experiences such as Maths and STEM problem solving days that require group work and leadership skills.

From year 7 all of our Most Able students are provided with a Most Able mentor to track their progress right the way through their time at St Michaels, acting as a point of contact between school and home ensuring they are up to date with the progress and achievements their child has made during each term. The coordinator ensures that students are on target to achieve their predicted grade and kept motivated through a variety of activities to raise the profile of such as STEM Club, BBC reporters and Central Teaching Laboratory Experience.

Once in year 9 the students will attend a graduation ceremony held at The University of Liverpool to celebrate and share their achievements with their family. The top Most Able students of year 9 will then graduate on to the ‘Professions Programme’ ran through the university-designed support their progression towards study and a career in the Health field such as Medicine.

In years 10 and 11 the selected students continue with the ‘Professions Programme until their graduation at the end of year 11. Twelve of our top students will be selected and given the opportunity to experience university life whilst on a three day residential trip designed to extend the Most Able students through subject specific enrichment activities based around actual university course content. During this time they also experience life in halls and are given practical advice about how to apply to university, select courses and apply for funding.

Once in year twelve all sixth form students are encouraged to apply for a place on the Scholars Programme delivered through the University of Liverpool. The programme will run throughout their time in sixth form and on successful completion they will receive a 40UMS point reduction in any application to a Russell Group University and a guaranteed offer of a place at The University of Liverpool.

This year for the first time three of our students attended the first session of Cambridge University’s HE+ Course at Liverpool’s prestigious Blue Coat School. Over the coming months the group will experience activities that will challenge them academically and provide advice and guidance about applying to Cambridge and other research-intensive universities. Not only will they develop their subject knowledge, they will be able to engage with new arguments and ideas, as well as further their independent learning, research and communication skills. They will also have opportunities to meet academic staff and Cambridge University students, to talk to them about their experiences and to find out more about higher education and student life."

As a school we have strong links with local universities in the city of Liverpool, especially with Russell group University of Liverpool and Hope University providing aspirational visits and motivational sessions on campus for our students. We are also registered members of NACE to ensure we have the most up to date resources enabling to provide aspirational provision for our most students as well as raising standards and levels of achievement for all.

An Example

Over the last three weeks students have attended a variety of summer schools at the University of Liverpool, during which they spent three days on campus attending programmes tailored to their own interests. Choosing hands on tasters from academic subjects such as Medicine, Dentistry, Infectious Disease, Veterinary Science, Engineering, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Archaeology and much more.
In the evenings the students stayed at University Halls of Residence to give them a real taste of what it is like to be a student living independently away from home. There was a full social programme in the evenings to help the students feel relaxed and to make new friends.
The final day involved a series of presentations and interactive workshops about student life, student finances and the opportunity to interview students about their time at university.
Throughout the event the young people had been led by teams of undergraduate workers, who were available to answer questions about university from their own perspective, drawing on their own recent experiences.
Student feedback quotes

Dentistry:

• ‘Really fun and enjoyable I really loved it. I would love to study dentistry in the university of Liverpool’
• ‘Very interesting and useful, a lot more of an insight to what I want to do in the future’
• ‘My favourite part was the part was we filled in the tooth. Also speaking about the university life was really good and useful’

Medicine:

• ‘I liked learning how to do CPR’
• ‘Made me consider it in the future’
• ‘Really interesting and insightful. Made me want to take it up’
• Infectious Disease:
• ‘I enjoyed the activity of finding out who was originally infected’
• ‘Learnt a lot about parasites etc’
• ‘It was very interesting to discover new branches of science and the experiments made the learning easier’

Engineering:

• ‘I had my questions about university and jobs answered, which was very useful’
• ‘Made me consider going into engineering’
• ‘It was interesting and it showed me what it is like to do engineering at university’
• ‘It was fun and imaginative. I enjoyed it a lot’
• ‘I enjoyed this session because it was fun and helped me work in a team with new people’ Earth and Ocean Science:
• ‘I enjoyed the volcano part the most’
• ‘I loved learning about extinction and fossils’
• ‘Fossils were interesting’
• ‘The fossils were interesting. I enjoyed making the plan for turtle island’
• ‘Definitely learnt a lot about both fossils, classification and volcanic features’

Further example

Our Most Able year 9 students took part in an exciting event at the University of Liverpool’s Central Teaching Laboratories on 15th July. The day was made up of workshops from both science, technology, engineering and maths, along with a session about possible future careers for which pupils would need separate sciences and higher level GCSE Maths.

The first session the students attended was ‘Cleaning with Robots.’ During this session the students had the opportunity to programme and use the same Lego robots that the university CAST team took to the Cheltenham Science Festival to demonstrate artificial intelligence. It was then on to the Astrophysics section where students experienced a virtual tour of our universe with in a planetarium.

The final session of the day was ‘Skittles Spectroscopy.’ The students got use state of the art university equipment to work out natural and man-made food dyes present in foods - a practical and equipment normally reserved for year twelve students and undergraduates. All of the students coped really well the level of science and technology involved and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

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