Academically Very Able (AVA) Programme at Dowdales

At Dowdales we have the highest aspirations for all our students and we aim high, supporting and challenging them to achieve their potential.   We believe that our most able learners should shine at Dowdales and our commitment is to challenge and support so that they achieve academic excellence and have the highest aspirations for themselves.

We believe that as exceptional learners they deserve our exceptional commitment and provision for them starts in the classroom.  Every teacher in school is committed to ensuring the outstanding progress of our most able students and know them as an individual.   Excellent classroom provision ignites their passion for a subject whilst enabling them to achieve the depth of learning required to achieve the highest grades possible.

Enrichment is also essential and from Year 7 through to Year 11 a special programme of events is organised that includes Master Classes, links with Russell Group Universities and professional careers inspired events.  Our link with Cambridge University has seen students take part in an experiential residential visit every year over the last three years.  The programme inspires students and enables them to see where they could be when they leave Dowdales and how they might get there.  Dowdales also offers our most able students opportunities to link with local and national companies ranging from the Royal Shakespeare Company to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Particle Physics. 

Our most able students are closely monitored and supported and a team of staff at Dowdales are dedicated to ensuring that they really do become the best that they can be.

How do we provide for the Academically Most Able?

Inside the classroom

  • Classroom Activities aimed at more able students
  • Higher levels of thinking
  • Open-Ended tasks
  • Discovery
  • Evidence of reasoning
  • Freedom of choice
  • Pacing and variety

Outside the classroom

  • Magazine subscriptions in the library  (New Scientist, MFL publications)
  • Master Classes (6th Form Colleges, University)
  • Workshops (Royal Opera House, Rambert Dance Company)
  • Links with a number of Universities (Lancaster, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Warwick,  Manchester, Newcastle)
  • STEM activities

Most Able Enrichment

  • Dowdalian School Newspaper
  • Auditioned Drama, Dance and Music Clubs (For example, Springloaded DYD)
  • Sports Leadership Opportunities
  • Subject Leader responsibilities

Pastoral Support

  • Most Able focused careers talks (information gained from Student Voice)
  • Furness College (Barrow 6th Form) Honours Programme Link
  • University visits
  • Mentor support from staff
  • University Scholarship Programmes (For example,  Warwick and Unitracks)


  • Author Visits
  • Dragon’s Den
  • UK Maths Challenge
  • Links with other schools
  • Design Technology local and national competitions
  • Maths enrichment days
  • National poetry competitions

Here are just some of the many and varied educational visits, competitions and careers visits our students are involved in. Click on the images below for more information.

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