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Academically More Able (HPA) and Talented Students

Academically More Able (HPA) and Talented Students


Uckfield College High Prior Attainers Policy

June 2021 

Identification of students as HPA or HPA+

High Prior Attaining students are defined as those students who achieve 105 or above in their combined En and Ma scaled scores in Primary Schools.  We will also add students to this group if CAT scores taken by Y7 in September identify students who have potentially underachieved at primary school, or who do not have any SATs data, but whose CAT scores signify higher ability. In-year admissions to the College are reviewed through students’ baseline assessments and added to the HPA group if their performance is above average. Students who achieve 120 or above in their combined En and Ma scaled scores are also identified as an ‘HPA+’ group to give guidance to staff about students who have had particularly high prior attainment at the end of Key Stage 2. In September, the Director of Year for each year group meets with the SLT Lead for HPA and Exceptional Students to review the categorisation.  Teachers’ seating plans on Edulink show teachers who these students are in their classes.  


Our beliefs about provision for HPA students

We believe that excellent teaching has the same features for all students and the detail of this can be found in the College’s Teaching and Learning policy. As with all students, we believe that the curriculum (and how it is taught) is the most influential aspect. Curriculum thinking has to be bold and ambitious -  we are a challenge-seeking species and all children enjoy difficult work as long as they have appropriate scaffolding and support. The curriculum must be high-reaching and stretching for all students. Therefore, a key guiding principle is that teachers should plan and deliver lessons that are pitched to the top of every class, ensuring that lessons are challenging and engaging for all HPA students. Equality of access to an appropriate level of challenge is key. 

Another guiding principle is that our curriculum aims to develop a love of learning and a deep body of knowledge in each of the different subjects and must not, for example, become a reductive curriculum based, for example, based extensively on practising GCSE terminal questions too early in a student’s education.  Hinterland knowledge and cultural transmission, a wide academic vocabulary, the building of schema and understanding of relevance are all central to curriculum design at Uckfield.  Within a subject’s curriculum, there should also be opportunities for students to practise, to receive feedback and to refine, and to produce work of a very high standard of which students can be very proud. 

Our vision statement, that the College is ‘an inspiring place...where everyone is supported and challenged’ embodies our belief that we want to be ‘lighting fires’ for HPA students educationally and giving them the necessary support and challenge to enable them to achieve their own personal excellence.  We believe that the best culture in the school is one which celebrates both progress and academic attainment and where students are supportive of one another’s successes and achievements.  We believe we create this culture through our Uckfield Qualities, assemblies, behaviour curriculum and sanctions and rewards system and, in individual classes, each teacher should create a culture of passion and love for the subject and a culture where academic success is supported and celebrated, where students are proud and confident to show their knowledge and understanding and thinking.

Leaders in the College must expect that all children in their schools will do well and their actions support that.  Transition from Year 6 to Year 7 must be focused upon academic transition as well as pastoral, with the understanding that HPA students, like others, do not always find transition easy.  We believe it  is important to notice, celebrate and value our students and their abilities and achievements, and as part of this, we  will write to parents of HPA students to inform them that they are in this group in the school.

How this is achieved in practice:

In the College there is a relentless focus on standards of teaching and learning, curriculum design and staff professional development, in order for us to deliver what is set out in the teaching and learning policy and ‘Uckfield Excellence’ for each and every class. In practice, this looks like the frequent use of ‘Think Hard’-type activities in every lesson, no ‘empty’ tasks, high level vocabulary being taught explicitly and questioning as a fundamental part of differentiation.  It also involves the tailoring of guided practice, modelling and metacognition.

Research-informed revision strategies are taught to students in assemblies and in their lessons from Y7-13 to support metacognition and wellbeing, so that students can manage their revision efficiently and effectively and can avoid becoming overloaded.

Our three-year Key Stage 4 achieves the coverage of the National Curriculum effectively in Years 7 and 8 due to precise curriculum planning and good levels of pace and challenge in all subjects.  This enables Year 9 as the first year of Key Stage 4 to be ambitious in scope and to provide a highly effective transition year to Year 10.  The three year Key Stage 4 also enables HPA students to study their subjects in greater depth and breadth.  

Students’ achievements outside school in different subject areas, for example Sport or Music, are tracked and shared with their subject teachers.  Students are asked to keep the school informed via their MyACE documents of their achievement and enrichment activities outside school.

A comprehensive ‘Aim Higher’ programme covers every subject area and all HPA students are automatically involved in this. This involves tasks and enrichment opportunities that all students can access to extend and enrich their learning in every subject. We also expect all HPA students to be involved in our Student Leadership programmes in each year group.

In the Sixth Form, the Erudite programme provides additional stretch and challenge for the most able students and supports applications to Oxbridge and Russell Group universities.  Students are encouraged to think ahead to university applications from the start of Year 12 and are encouraged to aspire to selective institutions. Erudite then focuses them on enhancing their supra - curricular subject knowledge and giving them opportunities to develop their oracy through discussion tasks, presentations, debates and interview skills. This programme extends into Years 9-11 to support able students in having high aspirations and with the practical steps needed to achieve these.  The Extended Project Qualification also develops the breadth of the 16-19 curriculum for a significant number of HPA students.

Our Y6-7 Transition focuses on both academic and pastoral progress and the Directors of Year each ensure that staff are aware of HPA and HPA+ students.  These are identified on individual teachers’ seating plans to aid with targeted extended questioning. Directors of Year also hold focus group discussions with HPA students to review their progress and culture in the school. A meeting between the relevant year group SENCO, Director of Year  and SLT HPA lead should take place at the beginning of the year to identify HPA/HPA+ students who are also SEND.   Teachers should continue to have their minds open to potentially previously unidentified additional needs as a potential barrier to achievement and should refer to the relevant year group SENCO if they have any concerns or queries.

Academic progress of HPA students is tracked by class teachers, their form mentors, their Directors of Year and by the SLT and Governing body, using internal assessment data.  After each data capture point, the Director of Year and Assistant Principal for Aspirations will review HPA students at risk of underachieving and use the ‘Profiles of High Performing Learners’ grid to identify potential issues and solutions.  These will be communicated with class teachers and parents/carers. 

Teachers and pastoral staff are encouraged to have an open mind with regards to the potential of students who may have previously un-documented additional needs and make referrals to the SENCO where they believe it to be appropriate.  All students are screened consistently for Exam Access Arrangements in Year 10 and also at the beginning of Year 12.


Careers Education for HPA students

We believe that good career guidance can have a profound impact, as it ensures each and every young person, whatever their needs, background or ambitions, knows the options open to them to fulfil their potential.  It is important for HPA students to realise the wide variety of career pathways open to them and to challenge any stereotypes they may have.  The importance of career progression should be stressed to HPA students so that they are aware that they could go as far as they want in whatever pathway they choose.  HPA students have access to Level 6 qualified careers guidance to help them choose the pathway that is right for them.


Roles and responsibilities:

Strategic Leadership Team (HPA and Exceptional Students’ Lead; Transition Lead; Pastoral and RAFA Leads)

These members of SLT are responsible for the achievement and outcomes of HPA students across the school. This includes the Year 6 transition, designing and implementing an effective rewards system, leading the school’s Aim Higher Programme and working closely with the RAFA teams to put in place meaningful intervention to tackle HPA underachievement. It also includes CPD for staff around improving classroom pedagogy for our HPA students. 


Research Leads

Research leaders support teachers and leaders in their use of educational research to improve the teaching and learning of HPA students. They support SLT in their vision for highly effective, evidence informed teaching that challenges HPA students and supports them if underachieving. Research leaders also support the professional development of teachers in how to achieve the best outcomes for their HPA students, based on research from cognitive psychology and educational settings.  


Curriculum Leaders and TLR holders in subject areas

Curriculum Leaders and curriculum TLR holders are responsible for designing curricula which is knowledge-rich, challenging, develops a love of learning and consistently achieves excellent outcomes for HPA students in line with the expectations in the Teaching and Learning policy. They are responsible for the tracking and progress of HPA students across all key stages and the in-class intervention that takes place to ensure any underachievement is effectively challenged. They are also responsible for ensuring that there are meaningful extracurricular opportunities available for HPA students throughout Years 7-13. 


Directors of Year

DoYs are responsible for the wellbeing and achievement of HPA students across their year group, ensuring that they have a sense of belonging, are supported with positive mental health habits, and are rewarded for their achievements. They lead on student voice and refer this back to the relevant CLs. They also work closely with the SLT lead to utilise the RAFA (Raising Achievement for All) programme to tackle underachievement and liaise with parents/guardians accordingly. PDT (Personal Development Time) is the responsibility of the DoY too and these activities should engage, support and challenge HPA students. 


Pastoral Leaders

Pastoral Leaders work closely with their DoY to support the wellbeing and achievement of HPA students across their year group. They lead on attendance for these students, ensuring that all HPA students have excellent attendance and lead on the intervention for those students and families where they don’t have 95%. During in-year admissions, they ensure that the correct prior information is transferred between schools to identify students as being HPA. 



The SENCO liaises closely with the DoY and SLT lead through the Team Around the Child (TAC) meetings and during primary transition to ensure that the correct outside referrals are being made for students and leading the CPD for staff on the support needed for HPA students with SEN.  


Class teachers

Teachers are responsible for planning lessons which challenge HPA students in line with the Teaching and Learning policy and Uckfield Excellence, develop a love of learning for the subject along with being responsible for the outcomes of these students. Furthermore, they are responsible for implementing effective in-class intervention to challenge and support underachievement of HPA students. 


Form mentors

Form mentors are responsible for the wellbeing and achievement of HPA students in their mentor group, ensuring they have a sense of belonging and are recognised and rewarded for their achievements. Form mentors check that their HPA students are involved in super-curricular opportunities. They also work closely with the DoY and PAL to to support HPA students who are underachieving, for example, through report cards, phone calls home and Pupil Premium Passports.