Identification of High Potential Learners
The first step to good provision for high potential learners is effective identification to ensure it is inclusive of learners who are attaining highly, as well as those who have the potential to do so.
An effective identification policy should address:
- A range of aspects including
- Dual and multiple exceptionality
- Top 1% and 2%
- At least a triangulation of sources of evidence
- Subject-specific and generic identification
- An inclusive emphasis
- Based on an agreed and shared understanding of high potential learners
- Linked to an agreed and shared purpose
- Within a climate that celebrates achievements
- Monitoring and evaluation
The following information will help teachers and senior leadership to consider in detail what they understand by ‘high learning potential’ or their equivalent term, what sources of evidence to use, what approaches to take, and ultimately how to ensure that no high potential learner is being missed.
Potential Plus UK has taken the decision to use the term High Learning Potential (HLP) to describe the children whom we support, instead of the word ‘gifted’ or ‘gifted and talented’ or ‘more able’ or ‘very able’; which are all terms that have been used in schools and the media in the past. This advice sheet aimed at Governors, senior leadership and all teaching staff describes why we have adopted the term and what we mean when we use it.
There are a variety of different sources of evidence that schools can use to discover the strengths and talents of their learners. Effective identification is the first step to appropriate provision. Potential Plus UK recommends using at least a triangulation of these methods, including one for attainment and one for ability. Where cognitive ability tests are not a common method of identification (such as in primary schools), it is important to include other methods that will provide evidence ‘beyond’ attainment. Using a combination of methods helps to ensure that all high potential learners are supported in the best way possible, including those with dual or multiple exceptionality (DME) and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This advice sheet provides teachers and others within the education environment with the strengths and limitations of a variety of different sources of evidence that can be used to identify high potential learners.
This advice sheet is aimed at lead teachers and senior leadership with responsibility for the identification of high potential learners regardless of school phase. It gives guidance about questions to consider when writing or reviewing a whole school high learning potential policy.
High potential learners share some common characteristics that have been researched by Dr Linda Silverman of the Gifted Development Center in the USA. This advice sheet outlines these characteristics and the research, as well as providing explanations about the individual traits. It is aimed at teachers in early years’ settings, primary and secondary schools, as well as lead teachers and senior leaders.
S105 Checklist of Characteristics of High Potential Learners to aid identification
In 1988, following extensive research in gifted education, Maureen Neihart¹ and George Betts² proposed six profiles of children with high learning potential. The profiles have been widely used in supporting high learning potential children and more recently (2010) they have been revised based on the authors’ experiences in the intervening years. This advice sheet is aimed at educators who want to find out more information about high learning potential or looking for ways to support and provide for high potential learners in the classroom.
It is widely acknowledged that there is significant underachievement among high potential learners, and that gaps exist between the progress, achievement and attainment of some of the most disadvantaged groups and their peers.
This advice sheet is aimed those with responsibility for high learning potential in all school stages and gives guidance about identifying high potential learners who are underachieving.
These advice sheets are aimed at teachers in all school phases and give guidance about how to identify dual or multiple exceptional (DME) learners (high potential learners with one or more special educational need). Some learners are not able to easily demonstrate their ability or potential in a traditional way within the classroom and this can lead to them being missed, making it highly likely that they will not have the opportunities they need to thrive and gain personal and educational fulfilment. Here we will look at various approaches that can be taken to ensure that these children do not fall through the net.
More information on dual or multiple exceptional (DME) learners is available here.
Identification in Educational Phases
This advice sheet is aimed at practitioners in the Early Years and provides information on the characteristics and behaviours to look out for when considering children with high learning potential. It also gives a framework for observing and evidencing the abilities and strengths of these children.
This advice sheet builds on the information provided in S101 Approaches to Identification of High Potential Learners and S102 Identification of High Potential Learners: Sources of Evidence and offers additional guidance that is of specific use in the primary years. This advice sheet is therefore aimed at classroom teachers, lead teachers and senior leadership teams in the primary phase.
This advice sheet builds on the information provided in S17 Identification Approaches and S13 Identification: Sources of Evidence and offers additional guidance that has specific application in the secondary years. This advice sheet is therefore aimed at classroom teachers, subject teachers, lead teachers and the senior leadership team in the secondary phase.