Seaford College hosted a large number of local primary and secondary schools this week at its inaugural Gifted and Talented conference, “Challenging the more able learner”. Sue Mordecai the renowned and inspirational speaker spoke at the conference. Sue covered the current challenges for able learners in our classes from Reception to Year 13. The key messages included ideas to help engage children to read for pleasure in an age where technology is so dominant. Sue said: “After the age of 7 research studies show that we learn new words from what we read, encouraging ‘Screenagers’ to read is a real challenge.” Sue discussed the importance of good teachers and highlighted that a passion for a subject along with good subject knowledge in secondary education is crucial for engaging the more able learner. Sue shared a checklist of characteristics of the more able learners and challenged the audience to make sure teaching allows for these characteristics to flourish:
Highly able learners:
• are curious
• continually ask questions
• have a willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty
• have a recognition of and an appreciation for the interconnectedness of things
• are fascinated by, or passionate about, a particular subject or aspect of the curriculum
• determined and persistent
• can be perfectionists
Her main message was that schools should give children the opportunities to reveal their abilities so that talent can be identified. She then gave practical examples about how this can be achieved saying, “Ask unusual questions to prompt unusual answers and give students the chance to show exceptional qualities”. Examples of questions to ask included: What happens if I drop an ant? Do ideas have to be right to be valuable? Who is more corrupt – the person who gives bribes or takes bribes?
Rebecca Burns from Pennthorpe School said: “It was a superb event with fantastic ideas and real life examples to use in the classroom”. Malcombe Meaby, deputy head from Easebourne CofE Primary added: “The conference was fascinating and informative. I have lots of ideas that I’ll take away and share with my staff”. John Doy, Director of Seaford’s Academic Development said: “Sue is warm and engaging and her presentations always make you think.” Eleanor Jones, Seaford’s Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator added: “Sue is very inspiring and reenergises you. It has been a great conference for networking and sharing ideas between schools.”
John Green, Seaford’s Headmaster said: “Seaford is proud to be an inclusive school giving all pupils the opportunity to achieve their personal bests. Over the past three years our academic strategy has resulted in a very high number of incredibly able students joining the vibrant Seaford community.
The recent conference by Sue was inspirational and identified how to positively stretch our most able students both inside and outside of the classrooms. The strength of the Seaford community is that all our pupils have the self esteem to make the most of the vast opportunities and provision on offer – indeed our pupils succeed because they believe they can.”
Sue made a book recommendation to help schools identify the able learner in the foundation years:
Further information about Sue Mordecai:
Sue has taught in primary and secondary schools. She is currently a trustee and former chair of the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE), an independent education consultant and founder of the networking group ‘Associates for School Improvement’. Through NACE, Sue has been involved in the writing and production of materials commissioned by the Welsh and English governments and has represented NACE on a number of government advisory bodies. Until recently Sue was the Head of School Improvement with a Local Authority and worked with primary, special and secondary schools. She has delivered training nationally and internationally. She is on the board of a multi academy trust and is chair of the Diocese of Rochester School Effectiveness Group. Sue is the author of a number of articles and resources related to highly able students and is an educational adviser to the publishers ‘Rising Stars’ and is on the editorial board of the journal ‘Gifted Education International’. Sue is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
For more information: http://www.nace.co.uk