Able and Ambitious Programme | Scots College

Able and Ambitious Programme

At Scots College we have rebranded the concept of ‘Gifted and Talented’ as ‘Able and Ambitious’ to recognise that all students can and should be stretched and challenged and that latent giftedness or procession of talents does not always mean that students are achieving or exceeding their potential. Therefore, there is less focus on prior attainment and more attention is placed upon the individual interests, enthusiasm, and efforts exerted by each student on a case-by-case basis.

The Able & Ambitious policy recognises the most academically able students at Scots College, alongside identifying and giving opportunities to those who are hard-working, determined, academically optimistic and ambitious, independently engaged and display attitudes that are vital for success in the wider world.

Key Statements:

  • Teachers will stretch and challenge all students. Our most effective means of Able and Ambitious provision will be seen from our teaching and learning which stretches and challenges each student within the classroom.
  • Teachers will aim to uncover hidden talent, curiosity, individual flair for a subject, high intellectual ability and ambition in order to identify the most Able and Ambitious students, providing extended provision within and outside of the classroom.
  • A Self-Selecting process for our Able & Ambitious students allows for an inclusive approach into our whole College and subject-specific higher learning programmes.
  • All teachers at Scots College have a fundamental agenda to plant ambition in our students allowing them to thrive and progress in a collaborative but demanding atmosphere


Our aim is that Able & Ambitious students within Scots College shall:

  • be correctly identified as Able & Ambitious in specific subject areas
  • have their potential realised through classwork and home learning that is tailored and matched to their individual needs
  • be praised for studying in a climate of experimentation where failure is rewarded, where students embrace danger and take risks with their learning
  • have opportunities inside the classroom and though extra-curricular and/or enrichment provision, to develop their skills, ability and talents
  • have their emotional/social needs considered alongside intellectual needs
  • have their progress monitored and supported (mentored) by appropriately trained staff
  • have their parents involved in the process that recognises and nurtures their talents
  • provide opportunities for the most able and ambitious to be further extended in their fields of expertise

Scots College is an academic College offering a varied curriculum and has an active policy of inclusion. We aim to stretch all students academically to achieve their full potential. The key element in our teaching and learning is to provide provision for all students to uncover their full talents and ambition.

DEFINITION & IDENTIFICATION – What is being Able & Ambitious?

At Scots College we regard being Able & Ambitious as possessing expertise in a developmental stage. This means those students who display, or a potential to, exhibit exceptional performance in one or more areas of endeavour, be they academic, expressive or social.

Scots College acknowledges that being exceptionally Able may be subject specific or more general. 

The areas of ‘Able’ that will aid identification are:

  • High intellectual ability
  • Mechanical ingenuity
  • Physical ability in creative or performing arts
  • High functioning leadership skills and/or Social awareness
  • High psychomotor ability

Scots College acknowledges that being exceptionally Ambitious may be subject specific or more general. The areas of ‘Ambition’ that will aid identification are:

  • Determination to succeed and/or academically optimistic learners
  • Inspiration and/or high creativity
  • Independent engagement/huge enthusiasm within a specific subject
  • Curiosity of thought, flair for a subject, risk taking in quest for success
  • Emotional intelligence

All departments have published the criteria that they can use to identify those students who are Able or Ambitious in their subject area.

Scots College is an inclusive College which recognises that students have a great capacity for change and development. These criteria will be used to identify students continually.

The Scots College Able & Ambitious register is made up of two groups of students: 

Able Students

  • Those identified as being multiply or exceptionally Able in two or more subject areas through a combination of staff identification, achievement data, internal assessments and classroom observation.
  • Students will be identified as Able if they have

Ambitious Students:

  • Those who have been identified by subject staff, other staff members or parents as having exceptional Ambition.

Human ability is flexible and wide-ranging and therefore there is no single method of identifying Able & Ambitious students. The identification of such students at Scots College will always be made through a process of consultation and discussion with College staff, the Assistant Principal – Curriculum, the student themselves and parents. The Scots College Able & Ambitious Register is reviewed regularly and students will be added and removed as appropriate. As with identification, any amendments made will be the result of discussion between the Assistant Principal – Curriculum, College staff and the student.


The success of the Able & Ambitious programme will be measured using the following criteria: 

  • Is the Identification procedure clear and transparent enough for staff, students and parents to understand?
  • Is the work in the classroom differentiated to provide challenge for all learners?
  • Does the data at all year levels show evidence of good or outstanding progress/achievement?
  • Is a range of subject enrichment provision being provided by departments?
  • Is a range of whole College enrichment provision being provided for each year group?
  • Does the range of College enrichment provision show it has a significant impact on the attainment/social, moral and cultural enrichment of each A&A student?
  • Is our Able and Ambitious register linked to attainment, progress made and ambition?

Students will be regularly assessed and set targets by subject staff and all students will be encouraged to take an active part in any discussion of their current achievements and projected progress. The success criteria for Able & Ambitious students will be to set and achieve ambitious targets at identified stages in their education. Such targets are both quantitative (e.g. grades) and qualitative (e.g. leadership, participation).

The Assistant Principal – Curriculum will work with all staff (though particularly Learning Area Co-ordinators and Heads of Department, Deans) to identify, track, support and challenge Able & Ambitious students, including those at risk of under-achieving. Subject departments will maintain individual policies for the identification of, and enrichment provision for, Able and Ambitious students. Such provision will form part of each departmental yearly plan and will be formally evaluated each academic year. 


Able and Ambitious students may require a curriculum that exceeds the standard curriculum. Additional provision can be for groups or individuals and can take place within lessons, inside the College day or by enrichment activities. This will be managed by subject staff, tutors, mentors or outside agencies.

Different strategies will suit different students and different subjects. Subject tutors may employ the following:

  • Accelerated learning techniques
  • Teaching which takes account of a variety of learning styles and intelligences
  • Working with older students
  • Provision for A&A students, i.e. mentoring or in/outside enrichment provision
  • Extended homework tasks
  • Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
  • Extension activities within the classroom which encourage problem solving and thinking skills
  • Enrichment activities within the classroom to expand student knowledge and frames of reference
  • Acceleration and early exam entry (exceptional circumstances only)
  • The use of technology to allow students to effectively access appropriately challenging activities within the mixed ability classroom


The focus of enrichment provision at Scots College shall be based around the notion of Smart trips for Smart students. Enrichment activities will build on and develop opportunities for learning which exist as part of the school-wide curriculum. Students will be encouraged via the Self-Select process to apply or be directed to take part in: 

  • A wide variety of clubs, societies and enrichment activities in which they can develop particular skills and interests – each Year group to have a whole school self-select enrichment provision, i.e. Robotics, Astronomy, Elite Sport programme, Chess, Minecraft etc.
  • Competitions and National challenges, i.e. Mathswell, STEM, Eco challenge, World Scholars Cup, Ethics Olympiad, Business Challenge, Da Vinci Challenge, Science Olympiads etc.
  • Creative and Performing Arts workshops
  • National/International organisations eg United Nations, Youth Parliament
  • External societies and groups which specialise in their field of interest
  • College Council leadership or Student Parliament
  • Musical and Sporting activities
  • Extra-curricular clubs, i.e. Spelling bee, Debating club, Languages, Music, Elite sport


Scots College is fully aware that without a sense of purpose and direction many A&A students will not link their education pathways. We provide opportunities for our most Able & Ambitious learners to connect career aspiration with their current development by: 

  • Formal/Informal meetings with the careers advisor
  • Ambition Audit – career/higher education aspiration audit bi-yearly throughout College life to track subjects being studied to chosen ambition
  • Ambition Assemblies – a focus on progression and aspiration to ‘grow’ the learner for each student to realise their potential
  • Family Learning Evenings – enable families to understand how to model positive learning
  • Keynote speakers – e.g. PhD students from universities, College alumni, field experts


The College is aware that any decision relating to the academic achievement and progress of a student needs to be tempered by consideration of the whole child. The implementation of the Able and Ambitious policy will always take account of the impact an action many have on a child’s social-emotional development and will give due consideration to:

  • Their sense of personal involvement in decisions affecting their schooling
  • The need for peer acceptance and credibility
  • Their opportunities to develop “trans-intellective” capacities such as empathy and resilience

The College does not wish to create any form of label or badge for student identified as Able and Ambitious. Striving for and rewarding excellence should always be used to draw students together in pursuit of a common aim rather than to divide and isolate.  We aim to rid any perceived sub-culture of Able & Ambitious students hiding and being classed a ’swot’. We aim to steer all able students away from being a pigeon-holed group that shy away from being challenged. 


The College ethos promotes discussion and openness. As such, the role of parents and other members of the community in developing well-rounded, successful young people are highly valued at Scots College. Parents are acknowledged as being holders of vast amounts of information about their children and their input will be sought when identifying students who have the potential for excellence. 

Parents wishing to know more about the Able and Ambitious Programme are encouraged to contact Mr Craig Morrison, Assistant Principal – Curriculum at

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