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Orchard School Bristol

High Prior Attainers

High Prior Attaining Students at Orchard:
Teaching and Curriculum Provision


At Orchard we refer to our ‘High Ability’ and ‘Most Able’ students as ‘High Prior Attainers’ (HPAs). This is to reflect their high level of performance in their KS2 SATS tests, prior to joining us. A student can also be recognised as an HPA through identification by a member of staff, if for example, they have particular aptitude in a given subject. Our provision is based on the NACE Challenge Framework, which helps to promote a whole-school culture of ‘challenge for all’.

In the classroom, we seek to challenge HPA students with a diverse and fulfilling curriculum in a low-threat environment, in order to encourage high-order thinking and so that our students develop ‘powerful knowledge’. We do this through use of our ‘Accelerate’ differentiation, whereby HPA students are set tasks which take them far beyond the expected level of learning in a typical lesson. Teaching staff also pose probing ‘stretch-it’ questions which encourage students to think in depth to better understand subject matter. We also have top sets in English, maths and science, which enable HPA students to be fully immersed in high level learning.

We supplement our curriculum for HPA students with trips, guest speakers and in-school events, for example, the UK Maths Challenge, ‘Debate Mate’ and visits from local employers such as BAE Systems and Rolls Royce. Furthermore, our Enrichment programme (which runs every Wednesday afternoon), offers plenty of opportunities which are likely to be of interest to HPA students, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, our Ancient Cultures Club, Eco-Schools Club, Acapella group, sports journalism group, Coding Club, learning calligraphy, learning how to create architectural drawings, getting involved in the school production, and much more – we expand and refresh our enrichment offer several times per year.


At Orchard, we have a member of the Senior Leadership Team who is responsible for monitoring the provision and progression of HPA students. We run ‘BrightSparks’ assemblies to inspire our HPA students and ensure they have sufficiently high aspirations for their future. We also consistently run Mensa-style ‘Minerva Challenges’ to build resilience and develop critical and lateral thinking skills. With the help of our tutor team and dedicated careers advisor, we ensure regular discussions and plans for post-16, university and future employment are conducted. Each year we have many students who successfully attain places at leading sixth form centres (including in the Independent Sector, supported by scholarships) and Russell Group universities who subsequently go on to highly successful roles in future employment. Underpinning this are our tutors, pastoral team and Heads of Year, who together are on hand to provide HPA students with the necessary support throughout their school life, to ensure that they have the best opportunities for success.



We also make every effort to support the development of ‘Most Skilled’ (sometimes referred to elsewhere as ‘Gifted and Talented’) students – those who excel in a particular skill, sport, or in the Arts. We’re really proud of our school U13 Handball team, for example, who recently clinched the National title.


If you have any questions regarding our provision for HPA students, then please contact Dr Steve Murray.