Extra Challenge for Able Learners


Extra Challenge for Able Learners
Sep 2011


"We propose to consider … how well the school ensures equality of opportunity for all its pupils [and] promotes the confidence and engagement of parents."
Inspection 2012 - Proposals for inspection arrangements for maintained schools and academies from January 2012 – For consultation, Ofsted, March 2011

Working with parents of more able students has many of the same challenges as working with parents more generally. Some parents lack confidence, some avoid communication with school, some find parenting teenage children challenging and some are used to hearing only negative things about their child. But there are some issues specific to this group, such as explaining the school’s policy on G&T, and helping them understand how they can best support their child.

Extra Challenge for Able Learners provides activities that bring students and their parents together, allowing them to discuss issues and listen to each other’s perspectives. The activities will enable parents to understand how their children think and work. They encourage students to become more independent learners and stretch their thinking, encouraging them to ask questions and analyse information.

This practical resource includes extensive enrichment activities and comprehensive guidance material to help parents engage their children outside of the classroom. Including a variety of warm-ups, school-home enrichment projects, extended projects, vacation activities and going further activities, Extra Challenge for Able Learners will provide parents with the opportunity to actively collaborate in their children’s learning process.


Extra Challenge for Able Learners is a comprehensive resource that will:

  • Outline the benefits of engaging parents in their child’s education
  • Provide opportunities for students to enquire and question
  • Increase whole-school achievement through active parental involvement
  • Give parents a more active role in the education of their child
  • Develop effective communication tools between parents and their children
  • Provide extensive enrichment material and guidance for use in the home.

Summary of contents

This resource isn’t about just giving students more work to do, it is about making that work more interesting and engaging to the student and their parents.

Extra Challenge for Able Learners will enable you to:

  •     inspire your students to learn with and from their families through a collection of challenging and stretching enrichment activities
  •     help your more able students achieve more
  •     increase pupil attainment by involving parents in learning
  •     engage students in the learning process through the support of their families.

Chapter breakdown


Making the case for the school-home learning partnership

  • Guidance notes for colleagues: what are the benefits?
  • Guidance notes for parents: why bother?
  • Guidance notes for students: where to start

How to establish school-home learning partnerships

  • The parents’ meeting
  • How to secure and maintain parent/carer support for the home-school learning partnership
  • Creativity and risk
  • Creative learning
  • Sometimes ‘I don’t know’ is the correct answer
  • Guidelines on learning environments
  • Practical support checklist

Activity evaluation

Warm ups
Short project activities to promote an interest in cooperative learning, develop skills for learning, introduce the basic elements of self study research and promote a safe climate for learning.

Contextual guidance for use and introductions of warm-ups

  • Everyone carries a shadow
  • Ethics and the philosophy of science
  • New seasons
  • Prove it?
  • Sesquipedalianing
  • The lasting effect
  • The new berserkers
  • What don’t we know and how do we know we don’t know?
  • When thinking is history
  • What? Nonsense

School-home enrichment activities KS3
Contextual guidance for use and introduction of school-home enrichment activities. Examples of some of the activities include:

Give everyone £1,000,000
This activity is simple! Imagine that tomorrow morning everyone in the city or town or village where you live is given £1,000,000.

What would happen to:
a) The value of the £1,000,000?
b) The value of £1?

What effect would this gift have on the local economy and why? What effect would it have on the world economy? How could you prove your answer?

Potatoes in 1765, what will it be in 2050?
The potato was first introduced to English cooks in 1765. Since then a wide range of new vegetables and fruits have been discovered, developed and introduced into our general patterns of food consumption and enjoyment. Your pleasurable task is to anticipate the discovery of a new vegetable in 2050. What will it be like? What will its taste be like? Where will it be discovered and will who discover it? Will the plant grow quickly or slowly; will its taste and texture prove attractive to consumers and cooks?

Create your new vegetable in your mind – draw pictures of your plant in its different stages of growth and flowering. If a group of you do this activity you will have a collection of botanic drawings ready for exhibition and discussion by other future plant speculators. Do the plants have any medical or other beneficial qualities in addition to being edible?

School-home enrichment activities KS4
Contextual guidance for use and introduction of School-home enrichment activities. Some of the activities include:

Display as much as you can eat
There are many museums in the world containing collections as wide ranging as Victorian teapots, shells, trolley buses, alpine flowers, sculpture, and chewing gum. The Museum of Pasta celebrates the many forms of durum wheat. Different aspects of the museum look at the history of pasta, the literature of pasta, different forms of pasta and different preparations.

Choose a food product or category of food that in your opinion is worth a museum dedicated to it. ‘The Museum of Baked Beans’ or perhaps ‘The Museum of Trifles’. (There are at least forty-six listed museums celebrating chocolate). Once you have decided which food or ingredient or meal you are going to celebrate, consider and then outline your proposed museum.

Jumping Elephants
The elephant is the only mammal that cannot jump. It is however a very recent discovery as to how the flea is able to jump so magnificently. Recent research has now revealed the leg hooks and the leg spring working together, revealed by high-speed photography.

The mechanisms within the flea’s legs are understood to act as a coiled spring within the flea’s legs. The energy held within the flea’s legs combines with the flea’s leg hooks to build up power which when released together gives the flea enormous jumping capacity. The research is now focused on building robots that can utilize the muscle, hook, spring relationship within the legs of the flea.

While it is clearly an interesting and challenging thing to do (i.e. create high jumping robots) the question does arise as to why one would want to do so. Can you think of ten uses for a jumping robot?

Extended projects
Developing life-long interests careers/university/higher or further education studies
Contextual guidance for use and introduction of Extended projects.

  • Brush Talks from a Dream Brook
  • Voyages to the Tenretni Islands
  • Fantasy coffins
  • Horologium Plantarum
  • Listen! Let’s all be happy!
  • London’s burning
  • Masterstroke

Vacation activities
Contextual guidance for use and introduction of vacation activities

  • Humour mapping
  • Looks like
  • Riparian diplomacy
  • Successful architecture
  • Making the future


  • Resources: publications and internet sites
  • Support and guidance
  • Further Enrichment activity links to Optimus Education G&T Publications



Print: A4 Ringbinder, 200 pages

eBook: Enhanced PDF 


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