HEAT (GIFTED AND TALENTED) STUDENTS AT RPA
At RPA, we use the term ‘HEAT’ to describe our most able students because they show higher effort, attainment or talent. Effort is included in the list because we know that intelligence is not fixed and that students can make huge progress if they work hard and are resilient in the face of difficulties.
These students have an ability to process various kinds of information better than their peers. They have and consistently do perform in the top 10% in Cognitive Ability Tests (CATs). This corresponds to an average score of above 120 or a score of 125+ in one area. CATs may not accurately determine how weak a student is, but they do correctly estimate students who are beyond a “threshold” in high intelligence. 'Talented' students usually refers to students who show skill in practical subjects such as art, drama, music or sport.
Genes only partially determine our fate. Genes turn on and off in response to the environment they find themselves in. We as school staff have the exciting potential to switch on this capacity, perhaps for the first time, finding opportunities that let a student hear the notes which resonate with their higher abilities. We also hold responsibility if the child’s brain is saying “There’s no challenge here, I’ll just wing this”. These are students who should also have the capacity to make up for their weaknesses by using their strengths, in the way that a partially sighted person might use their sense of touch.
Being told that they are gifted can sometimes have an adverse effect on students so we try and think of this in terms of CAPACITY rather than a quality they possess.
As Coordinator for HEAT students at RPA, I work with students in Years 7 - 10 (we want Year 11 to focus on their exams) to implement a programme of activities. Typical activities include: