Explore the Best



Written by Steve GarnettSenior Educational Consultant at Dragonfly Training/International speaker, award nominated author and teacher

Steve will be delivering the ‘Teach to the Top’ online CPD course on 24 February. More information can be found here.

Would you like another way of thinking about meeting the needs of the full ability range in your class?

In the recent past a new way of thinking about meeting the full needs of the ability range has emerged and is best captured through the idea of ‘Teach to the Top’.

As ever, the devil is in the detail so it’s important to be clear what this idea does and does not mean!

Teach to the Top is not a model that implies that somehow all pupils can reach the same high level regardless of their starting point. It is also not a model that means the teacher teaches to the top and somehow leaves those less able to flounder and struggle without any support.

It is however, a model that asks the teacher to consider carefully the ‘pitch’ of the lesson. It is a model that argues that it is possible to ‘pitch’ the lesson towards the highest ability of a particular class but with careful and considered scaffolding can support those who might not initially reach the ‘high bar’ set by the teacher.

Both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ scaffolding techniques are needed of which there are several and the teacher will be able to draw on these in order to meet the needs of the full ability range. Moreover, it is important that a teacher has a feel for, and knowledge of, the range of abilities of the pupils in their class as well as their aptitude. This will ensure that the teacher will be able to predict where different types of scaffolding will be required but this is not always inevitable. Data is always a prediction never a prophesy!

Done well, ‘Teach to the Top’ it is an approach that can ‘drag up’ the overall standard within a class. The prize behind making this model work is that more pupils will achieve better outcomes than with other models.

As one teacher memorably quoted as a way of capturing this approach: “A rising tide lifts all boats”.