Most Able Students




Evaluation of The Brilliant Club: 

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As a fully comprehensive school we have students with a wide range of abilities and talents. We aim to ensure that our most able pupils have high aspirations and are given every opportunity to fulfil their academic potential during their time here.



How do we identify the most able?

We identify our most able pupils using a variety of information. In Year 7 we look at Primary School Bandings, KS2 SAT results, Cognitive Ability Scores and Reading Ages. As we get to know students we also look at the student’s current levels and recent exam results.


What do we expect for our most able students?

We expect our most able pupils to make at least two levels of progress in each subject by the end of Year 8, to study the EBACC and their choice of creative subjects, and to achieve A/A* (Grade 8/9) in as many subjects as possible so that they are able to progress on to success in their choice of A levels in our 6th Form and have access to the top Russell Group Universities. Every year some of our students obtain places at Oxford or Cambridge and in 2015 over 80% of our SFH6 graduates went on to Russell Group or Research Intensive universities.


Our Curriculum Offer

Students are taught in ability sets in Maths, English, Science and Languages but have other lessons in mixed ability groups. All of our most able students take Latin in Year 7 and 8 with the option to continue this subject onto GCSE level, or even A-level if they wish. In Year 9 students choose their GCSE options along with their choices from our wide range of successful creative options. They have the opportunity to study three Sciences at GCSE, two or even three languages and able mathematicians usually go on to study Additional Maths or AS units. In addition many talented artists are entered early for an Art qualification in Year 9.


Students are encouraged to contribute to and feedback on the curriculum offer too. Groups of more able students across year groups successfully plan and deliver whole school deep learning ‘Feminism Days’ and student voice informs the development of our Schemes of Work.

We have a dedicated More Able Students Leader who is responsible for championing Sydenham’s more able students and ensuring they fulfil their potential. Teachers aim to be fully aware of the precise level their most able students are working at, in order to provide them with suitably challenging work and to carefully monitor their progress. We have a Lead Learning Practitioner in every Faculty who has overall responsibility for stretch and challenge in the classroom. They work closely with Year Learning Coordinators and Curriculum Leaders to ensure that our able students become high achievers and enthusiastic, happy learners.




Opportunities outside the classroom

We feel it is vital for our all our students to enjoy a full and rounded education and this means encouraging them to take part in the many clubs and extra curricular opportunities on offer to explore and develop their talents. Talented musicians are able to have additional music lessons and take part in our concerts, performing in the orchestra, the Swing Band, Guitar group or one of the many other groups that practice regularly and perform together in school. Our madrigal choir is a particular draw for talented classical singers and Battle of the Bands appeals to many of our singers, guitarists, pianists and drummers. The Drama department offers many opportunities for both writing and performing in plays and musicals, talented dancers can join the Sydenham Dance company and our able sportswomen can compete in a whole range of sports.

Sydenham has a record of performing strongly in debating competitions. In 2015 our girls won the Artemis Urban Debate League National Finals at the House of Lords. Many of our able girls choose to complete the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award and take part in the STEM clubs and extra activities, for example attending our STEM lectures, designed to inspire them into careers in STEM. Popular too are Philosophy sessions along with the Book Clubs that are run by both the English Faculty and the LRC.

We have strong links with a number of Universities and as we encourage our more able students to aspire to attending University, we reinforce this by taking them on University day trips so that they can experience University life for themselves.

Each year selected students take part in The Brilliant Club Scholars Programme. The Brilliant Club is an award winning organisation which matches leading PhD researchers with schools to help stretch students beyond the curriculum. Students take part in university style tutorials, attend launch and graduation trips at prestigious universities and complete an extended project.

Here’s what one of our students says:

I’ve enjoyed being part of the Brilliant Club because it gives you an opportunity to try new things, challenge yourself. I was pushed to do things that I didn’t think I could do!

Similola Mussa, Year 7 who received a 1st Class for her final assignment.

Brilliant Club Scholars Graduation at the University of Sussex

Most able successes
Students at Sydenham regularly achieve over 10 A/A* grades at GCSE and on average over the last 4 years 16% of every Year 11 cohort has achieved five or more A/A*’s at GCSE, with 25% of students achieving 3 or more A*/A grades at GCSE. For example in 2015, 7 of our students achieved between 10 and 13 A/A* each!  These are fantastic results for a fully comprehensive school and evidence that Sydenham School’s most able students have every opportunity to achieve results that put them on a par with the most successful students across the country. 

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