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You are here Enrichment Programme Enrichment Policy

Our school promotes the highest standards to which all pupils can aspire. We foster a learning community in which knowledge is valued and talents are recognised, respected and celebrated. Academic achievement is a source of pride for pupils, parents and the wider community.

1. Statement of Intention
Education in our school will provide for children of all abilities. Children deserve an education that encourages them and motivates them to achieve their full potential. The curriculum and organisation of the school will allow each pupil to learn at a pace that is appropriate for them.

2. Definition
To be regarded as ' more able ' is to demonstrate a significantly higher level of ability than most children at Our Lady of Lourdes National School of the same age in one or more curriculum areas or in any of the following:

general intellectual ability,
specific academic aptitude,
creative thinking and production,
psychomotor ability,
visual and performing arts.

We recognise that more able children can be:

good all-rounders,
high achievers in one area,
of high ability but with low motivation,
of good verbal ability but with poor writing skills,
very able with a short attention span,
very able with poor social skills,
keen to disguise their abilities.

To ensure that this policy in inclusive a figure of approximately 20% of the school's pupils will be selected for our Enrichment Programme on Thursdays. A breakdown of 2 / 3 gifted (academic) as indicated by SAT scores of 86+ percentile / 8-10 STen and 1 / 3 talented (music, art, sports etc) is chosen.

This is not a programme for the tiny percentage of any school population seen as exceptionally gifted but a programme which identifies the most capable pupils we have in each class and puts measures in place to meet their needs. Flexibility and discretion will be used in deciding whether a pupil should be included in the Enrichment Programme.

Our school has adopted the definition of ' talented ' learners as those children who have the ability to excel in practical and creative skills such as sport, music and art.

The term ' exceptionally able ' is used to describe students who require opportunities for enrichment and extension that go beyond those provided for the general cohort of students in the ' More Able & Talented ' group. These pupils will follow an individual education programme.

3. Aims

The aims of our Enrichment Programme is to provide something different to the normal classroom experience and enable students to:

Challenge themselves to achieve to their full potential
Learn skills they may not acquire in a classroom
Have opportunities for leadership
Develop new interests
Widen pupils' intellectual experiences
Learn to cope with new challenges
Improve independent learning skills
Have opportunities to experiment
Have the opportunity to question and express their opinions

We strive to promote and to encourage:

equal opportunities for every pupil to realise his or her own potential both academically and socially through the development of the appropriate concepts, skills and attitudes
recognition that the more able 20% of pupils require appropriate differentiation
identification of these children
appropriate assessment of their abilities and needs
development of their spiritual, moral, social and cultural experiences at a level appropriate to their abilities
the awareness of learning tasks that are relevant, enjoyable and extend conceptual structures
staff training and awareness
parental support
links with other agencies that may help the development of these particular pupils

4. Identification

The school is aware that no identification strategy is perfect and also that diverse talents emerge at various ages and in different circumstances so we never regard a child's potential as fixed.

We employ a number of methods of identification of the more able child:

  • Teacher nomination
    Teachers are best placed to identify more able children as they have a range of skills which enable them to do this. Judgements will be based on analysis of information given by parents upon enrolment, previous teachers, interaction with children, parents and professionals, on-going assessment, careful record keeping, collation of evidence and a range of formal and informal tests (e.g. standardised Reading & Math tests, NRIT, aptitude tests).
  • Tests and assessments
    Tests are only part of the picture as they test for particular abilities. However, formative, summative and diagnostic, general and subject specific tests can be used to support other methods of identification.
  • Checklists
    A useful and more informal way of identifying more able children.
  • Educational psychologists
    To confirm identification an educational psychologists input will be sought if the above methods of identification need confirming further.
  • Parental nomination
    The opinion of parents about their children is highly valued and will be taken into consideration but will also not be the sole method of identification. All parents consider their child to be special and may believe that s/he is displaying more able or talented ability but in some areas, the school often recognises that ability to be similar to that displayed by many other children.
  • Peer nomination
    Children are usually very quick to recognise ability in others and so it is part of our inclusive philosophy to listen to the views of children about children when they are offered.
  • Awareness
    Although not a formal method of identification, awareness is a useful one. The more we consider ability and look for outstanding ability, in a variety of areas, the more children we will identify.
  • Provision
    By building challenge into our provision across the whole school (not just curriculum areas) more able children are likely to be identified.

5. Strategies

Whole School Level

We believe that provision for the more able child should not be made at the expense of other pupils. More able and talented pupils have additional educational needs and have as much right to provision as any other child. In our school, children should have the opportunity to:

•  have a secure environment in which they feel happy to display ability and take risks

•  have a teacher who expects excellence and not just competence

•  experience challenge sometimes to the point of finding work difficult

•  relax and have fun

•  engage in exciting intellectual discussion and debate

•  have access to learning opportunities that recognise a range of learning styles

•  be given praise and appropriate targets

•  know that they can ask searching questions and be given a considered response

•  know that 'having a go' is more important than getting it right

•  be recognised as an individual with strengths and weaknesses

  Organisational Approaches

  A. Strategies within the classroom

•  varied and flexible grouping within a class year group

•  vertical grouping across year groups when appropriate e.g. as is currently done for music

•  withdrawal of more able children for higher level work within small groups

•  upward differentiation/extension in schemes of work

•  teaching thinking skills in a subject context e.g. problem solving, decision making

•  asking higher order questions which encourage investigation and enquiry

•  setting clear and challenging targets

•  enabling children to evaluate their own work

We aim to provide a variety of enrichment opportunities which includes:

•  a wide range of extra-curricular activities and clubs

•  opportunities for artistic, musical, dramatic and sporting development

•  enrichment opportunities within and beyond the core subjects

•  visits, experts, master-classes

•  competitions

•  summer schools

•  appropriate pastoral care and counselling

Classroom Level

Without doubt the class teacher's role in helping the more able and talented pupils to realise their potential is fundamental to any success. Courses of study will be modified to meet the needs of the more able pupils. The school acknowledges that this is a heavy but ultimately rewarding task for the class teacher.

We understand and acknowledge the importance of establishing what prior knowledge, understanding and skills children have so as to avoid unnecessary repetition of work which is extremely de-motivating. A summary of what has been covered will be recorded in the teacher's Monthly Reports.

We try to raise the profile of achievement whilst at the same time recognising that peer pressure often requires children to conform to the culture of under-achievement.

We are alert to the 'bright but lazy' child who could achieve better results if motivated and challenged.

We endeavour not to slip into assumptions that more able children are easier to teach than other children.

General :

A. To instil basic skills commensurate with the pupil's ability, the classroom programme will:

•  allow for the learning of research skills at an early age;

•  allow for high intellectual skill development in analysing, synthesising and evaluating;

•  encourage divergent thinking;

•  make optimum use of materials and human resources;

•  individualise learning;

•  continuously evaluate pupil progress and programme effectiveness.

B. To develop confidence and a feeling of self-worth in the pupils, classroom programmes

•  encourages them to work at appropriate levels of difficulty;

•  requires them to evaluate their own tasks;

•  invites them to pursue studies and activities that interest them;

•  fosters pride in tasks well done.

C. In order for the pupils to acquire knowledge and attitudes that will encourage their active participation in Irish society, the programme should stimulate

•  respect for the opinion of others;

•  evaluative thinking;

•  discussions of leadership and the acquisition of knowledge about great Irish leaders;

•  an interest in Irish history and in experiences relevant to the Irish montage;

•  an appreciation and understanding of the contribution that many cultural groups make to Irish society.

D. To develop moral and aesthetic sensitivity in the children, the programmes should allow

•  open discussion on moral issues;

•  the development of a sense of humour;

•  opportunities to appreciate the aesthetic aspects of life.

E. Programmes for more able and talented pupils will

•  consider pupils' interest;

•  match their learning style and rate;

•  be oriented to the process of thinking rather than to content.

In order to incorporate higher-level thinking into the learning process, certain strategies will be introduced as early as possible:

Research - the skills and habits of independent work that are essential to research will be fostered as early as possible. Such skills include using time wisely, knowing how to search for required information, reading critically, taking notes, and remembering facts.

Creative Problem-Solving -the teacher will help the pupil to tackle a problem in an organised fashion: to clarify it, decide on a method of procedure, research and collect data, keep an open mind, think of many ideas and check opinions against facts.

Interest Centres
These benefit all pupils but to be successful they must contain dynamic material with the power to stimulate pupils to further research and that ample time be allowed for browsing and exploring. Teacher designed projects will not be used, but rather allow the product of research to be the result of the special investigation and interests of the pupils. Teachers will not look for a 'report' which is frequently little more than a regurgitation of existing information and often the result of 'copy & paste' from the Internet. A 'mind map' and explanation is more appropriate. The selection of appropriate material for interest centres is crucial, because the objective is not simply to provide information, but to provoke curiosity that will lead to further investigation. Displays should be renewed at very regular intervals so they don't become wallpaper!

Stimulating Sensitivity to Problems
In activities similar to those used for divergent thinking, pupils should be asked to discuss such questions as 'what would happen if everyone in the world became deaf, or we only had three fingers, or if someone invented a pill as a substitute for all food'.

Self-initiated Learning
This is a term used when a pupil 'goes shopping' for someone to teach a desired skill to the class or an interested group.

Places of interest visited by a class can become the focus of learning. The mini-tour is an adaptation for a small group of pupils within a class who are particularly interested in some special area of learning e.g. visit to National Gallery for talented art pupils or National Concert Hall for talented music pupils.

Pupils are matched with an expert in an area in which they are interested. For example, the pupils might wish to meet with a scientist, a lawyer, or an artist. The teachers in conjunction with the parents would then make the initial contact for the pupils and set up 'visiting privileges'.

We understand differentiation to be 'the process whereby an attempt is made to provide learning experiences which are matched to the needs, capabilities and previous learning of individual pupils' . This definition implies that teaching must take into account differences in learner characteristics. This in turn requires careful assessment, flexible planning and the provision of a variety of approaches to learning and teaching.'

Crucially we understand that differentiation of homework does not mean extra homework or the giving of more of the same to be answered.

6. Role of the Co-ordinator

•  Monitor agreed policy

•  Monitoring early identification

•  Ensure that all staff involved with identified children know of their particular needs and are encouraged to make provision for them

•  Purchase appropriate resources

•  Monitor assessment and provision

•  Liaise with Post of Responsibility holders, especially those with core curriculum responsibilities

7. Role of Parents / Guardians

Parents/carers are encouraged to:

  •  liaise with teachers and others to:

- identify the child's talents

- ensure that the child has appropriate and ongoing educational opportunities

•  provide a stimulating and supportive learning environment at home

•  encourage their child to pursue excellence, develop mastery and become an independent learner

•  become informed about the options available to support their child's development, including community organisations and programmes.