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Higher Prior Attainers

Challenging our Higher Prior Attainers

Challenge in our Curriculum

D. Willingham argues that in order for deep learning to take place, students need to think hard. A ‘comfortable struggle’ needs to take place, where students think deeply about the meaning of the knowledge they have acquired.

The key principle of our curriculum, Be Bold, is underpinned by Willingham’s principles. Subject Leads are encouraged to plan to provide appropriate opportunities for this ‘comfortable struggle’ to occur as often as possible.

The curriculum is delivered by subject experts who keep abreast of the latest thinking about their subject area. The teaching cycles and mastery programme also support deeper thinking.

Challenge delivered through extracurricular opportunities:

Regular opportunities are provided for our higher prior attainers to engage in a variety of extra-curricular activities internally and/or externally. These include:

Offsite trips and events. For example:

St. Mary’s University for an Aim Higher University conference.

Hounslow School’s Climate Conference.

AMEY Science Cup

Houses of Parliament visit


Internal provision. For example:

Languages Masterclass (SOAS)

Critical thinking (Oxford University)

STEM challenge (St Marys)

Layers of London (Humanities)

Rivers of the World (Art and Humanities)

Bebras Challenge (Computing)


Being Bold.

Students identified as most able take part in bespoke Being Bold sessions (in house, extra-curricular provision) designed to challenge their development. For example:

The Brilliant Club

Public speaking challenge

STEM Science Club

Cipher Challenge


Challenge delivered through small group coaching:

Students identified as higher prior attainers in year 7 and 8 meet with the Lead Practitioner for Higher Prior Attainers and Senior Leaders on a rotation basis across the academic year. Coaching conversations take a variety of guises, including:

  1. Small group coaching focused on developing metacognition and inquisitiveness.
  2. Student voice; student panel discussions about teaching, learning and challenge across the Academy.
  3. 1-on-1 conversations to review progress and develop effective revision (post assessment windows).

Staff Development:

At Bolder, all staff benefit from frequent professional development opportunities. This academic year, staff have been divided into working groups, one of which focuses on developing strategies to challenge higher prior attainers within lessons. This group meets regularly to discuss best practise for our most able students, and how best to implement this. Regular observation, feedback and collaborative planning (the ‘Lesson Study’ model) form a key part of how this group functions.

Our Lead Practitioner for higher prior attainers regularly attends training delivered by NACE.  Additionally, through completing an NPQSL, with a focus on higher prior attainers, he is abreast of the latest educational research in this field.

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