20 teaching ideas for gifted and talented students

Author: Torsten Payne
Published: 20/08/2020


Lesson planning

1. An attainment ceiling? Consider if there is a ceiling for highest attaining. If some students regularly achieve perfect scores, then they aren’t being challenged.

2. Peering. When designing your seating plans, sit the most able students in pairs. They will need to have a peer of their own level to challenge their thinking.

3. Planning. If setting a group task, allow more able students to have a quick discussion about how long they’ll need, who they work with, how they’ll present their findings. This means they’ll be involved with planning their work, which is great for their organisational skills and engagement.

4. Hypothesise. Ask more able students to develop a hypothesis before learning about a topic. This allows them to use prior knowledge and then to evaluate all subsequent learning in light of their prediction.

5. Help desk. Have a table of resources from which students can help themselves to encourage challenge and independence. This could include textbooks, writing frames and dictionaries, for example. (Whilst this can help all students, experience has shown that it’s the more able who use it most.


Higher attaining students tend to grasp concepts quickly, or may even already know them. Instead of dragging every student through the same tasks, consider if they could start further on.

6. Challenge first. Put the most difficult question first. Those that can answer it can move on to a more challenging task while you teach the rest of the class.

7. Stepping stones. Have the knowledge broken down into tasks of escalating difficulty and let students choose their own starting point.

8. Exit cards. Give students three graduated questions for the last few minutes of the lesson to recap their learning. Mark these and make them the personalised starters of the next lesson with a fourth, hardest, question ready for any who got all three correct.

9. Tiered task. Arrange three easy tasks, three medium and three difficult ones. Students have to complete four from the list (so they must do at least two different categories) but they are choosing their own start and end points.

10. Flipped learning. Tell the highest attaining students the topic of the next lesson and ask them to find a good resource (such as a YouTube clip, maximum 5 minutes) to use as a starter.

Download all 20 teaching ideas for gifted and talented students. 

Torsten Payne

Torsten Payne has over 20 years’ experience teaching in a range of settings, from big cities to rural comprehensives. A regular contributor to teaching publications and national conferences, he delivers staff training to schools across Europe. He is the author of 'Stretch and Challenge for ALL: Practical Resources for Getting the Best Out of Every Student'.