In the past schools have labelled the most able students in a class or year group as `gifted and talented'. While segregating these students may help them to achieve their academic potential, there is little benefit in this practice for their `less able' classmates. Even less so for those who are left in the middle space, identified as neither highly academic nor severely struggling. The Stretch and Challenge model focuses on setting high expectations for all students, regardless of their ability. Encouraging all children to meet universally high targets introduces flexibility between, otherwise rigid, ability groups, and gives children greater opportunities to exceed.
Split into two parts, Stretch and Challenge focuses on different ways of thinking about and implementing this model in school. Debbie Light begins by helping teachers to create a culture of high expectations in their classroom by setting challenging learning objectives, creating opportunities for students to develop independence and supporting students, as they become resilient learners. The second half of the book advises teachers how to create an inclusive learning environment where all children feel challenged by encouraging teacher questioning, designing tasks, grouping students and effectively using teaching assistants.
Filled with honest, experienced and undeniably helpful advice, Debbie Light's Stretch and Challenge is a must have guide for all teachers who want to collectively maximise their students' learning and achievement. The book provides a set of ready-to-use training plans to help you train your colleagues and is accompanied by PowerPoint slides available to download online for free. It offers 19 hours of CPD, equating to a cost of just GBP1.20 per hour of training!
Debbie Light is an Advanced Skills Teacher and an Assistant headteacher in a secondary school in West London. She is the co-author of Lesson Planning Tweaks For Teachers and is one half of @TeacherTweaks.