Last Updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A summary of resources relating to highly able learners

What is this?

A summary of key information, resources, professional learning opportunities and links for teachers to help them meet their statutory responsibility to identify and support highly able learners.

It provides guidance on building in depth and progression to the curriculum for learners who are working, or who are capable of working, significantly ahead of their peers. It considers the importance of social and emotional development alongside cognitive development.

Who is this for?

This guidance is for managers, early learning and childcare practitioners, and teachers in primary and secondary schools or anyone who has a role in identifying and supporting highly able learners.

How to use this learning and assessment resource to improve practice?

Highly able learners are those who are working, or have the potential to work, ahead of other learners their own age. They may be working, or have potential to work, at the higher level across the whole curriculum or in one or more curricular area.

There has been much debate about how to describe this group of learners who have been referred to using a range of terminology including: highly able, exceptionally able, more able, gifted, talented, bright, learners with marked aptitude, high learning potential, high achievers. The terminology currently used is highly able learners.

The information provided will allow teachers and practitioners to access key information, guidance and resources to support professional development and classroom practice in this area.

Improvement Questions

  • How do we identify our highly able learners?
  • What does provision for highly able learners look like in our school?
  • How well do we plan challenge for our learners?
  • How do we work with parents to support highly able learners?
  • In what ways do we use the flexibility offered within Curriculum for Excellence to support highly able learners?
  • How do we support learners who are capable of attaining and achieving more than they are at present?

Key legislation, policy and guidance

Highly able learners are entitled to additional support under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 as amended 2009.

Scottish Government guidance is provided in Supporting Children’s Learning: Code of Practice 2017

Extending Children’s Rights - Guidance on the assessment of capacity and consideration of wellbeing (non-statutory guidance).

Explore this resource

The Scottish Network for Able Pupils has specialised in teaching and learning for highly able pupils for over 20 years. SNAP, with some funding from the Scottish government, has offered support and advice to the Scottish Education system in three main areas: publications, staff development and national conferences. Working in the field of both Special Educational Needs/ Additional Support Needs and Gifted and Talented Education, SNAP have an interest in, and considerable experience of, working with teachers as they support children of high ability.

The SNAP website contains a wide range of resources for teachers, parents and learners. The resource offers a framework for whole school reflection of practice and provision and allows individuals and schools to reflect on how they can support highly able learners in their school. It starts from the premise that many of the approaches currently advocated as good learning and teaching can be used to meet the needs of these learners. However, highly able learners can also have unique needs which require to be considered and addressed through evidence-based approaches.

Professional Learning Opportunities

SNAP provides a range of material to support professional learning for individual teachers and for school professional learning.

There are also free online modules available on the National Improvement Hub to support professional learning on inclusive education:

Introduction to inclusive education

Inclusion in Practice: The CIRCLE Framework - Secondary

Introduction to dyslexia and inclusive practice - Free online modules