High Prior Attainer, Gifted and Talented Students

As a college we pride ourselves on the opportunities we provide to our students to stretch and challenge themselves to reach their full potential.


Higher Prior Attainer (HPA) - Students who have performed at a higher level during SATS in year 6 and CATS in year 7 than their peers. Exam results show that such students have the potential to perform at a high level in their GCSE. Parents and carers will receive a letter informing them of their child’s HPA status. This applies to their whole college life.

Gifted and Talented (G&T) - Students who show an in-depth knowledge and skills in areas of specialism and perform above the level of their peers. This is monitored by subject experts in college using NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) guidelines. Parents and carers will be informed annually if their child is on the G&T register for a subject, as this may vary from year to year.

Our college provides regular opportunities to support HPA and G&T students including, but not limited to:




Purpose built revision guides and materials with access to online textbooks that encourage independent learning and enable further enhancement of RE skills and knowledge.

Opportunities to serve in the catholic life and ethos of the school through chaplaincy teams and participation and serving in College and class Mass.




Jack Petchey “Speak Out” Challenge - every year we work with the Speaker's Trust who develop the skills of our year 10 students, leading to participation in regional and national competitions.

Poetry Competitions - we encourage students to submit poetry for an internal competition linked to National Poetry Day. Students are also encouraged to take part in the Foyle Young Poets of The Year Award.

200 Word Challenge - an opportunity for self-expression through a limited number of words, working independently and creatively students are given a writing prompt on a specific theme.

Public speaking - our year 9 students take part in the St Mary's Inter-Schools Public Speaking Competition.

Theatre trips and visiting performers that link with and complement the curriculum for all year groups.

Shadowing the Yoto Carnegie Medal - Students shadow the judging process. They read, discuss and review the books on each shortlist.




UKMT Maths challenge competitions with representatives from year 7 though 10.

Year 7 and year 8 Puzzle days, led by the Maths department.

Mathematician of the Month award.

GCSE Further Maths course available for those students interested in bridging the gap to A level maths




After college STE(A)M Club (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths).

Salter Institute Chemistry Club - an innovative interactive educational platform which sparks and nurtures an interest in chemistry through independent learning. See Mrs Jackson (Science Technician) for more information.

Students are given the opportunity to choose separate sciences at GCSE level to further develop their understanding in each of the 3 sciences.

Opportunities to apply to Colchester University’s ‘Accelerate your Future’, an engineering residential.

Medical masterclasses - based at the Iceni Centre, Colchester Hospital, giving a unique insight into the Theatres department.


Creative and Performing


Weekly instrumental & choir groups and clubs.

Performance opportunities including carol concerts, summer concert and informal lunchtime shows.

Peripatetic music lessons to develop a range of skills and interests.

Technical Crew - set up and run audio equipment for drama productions.

Practical roadshows from Colchester Institute.




Historical association logins provided for all students to access further reading, podcast and debates.


Modern Foreign Language (MFL)


Language Leaders – working with primary and Year 7 students on their French skills. Language Leaders work on pedagogy, design resources and prepare games and activities. There are opportunities for them to visit partner primary schools and organise a language festival in the summer term.

Students are encouraged to lead activities during Diversity Week and International Language Day.




Opportunities to represent the college in district level athletics.

Regular after college clubs and competitions in a range of seasonal sports.

After college coaching sessions for GCSE PE students to further enhance the quality of their performance.


Polaris Prize


The Polaris prize - a college wide enrichment scheme where students can engage with extracurricular subject specific activities. Student gain points, collected on their Polaris passport. Points win prizes, with the grand prize and shield awarded in the annual shining stars college assembly. For support and more information, students are to see Ms Orme at break time on Wednesdays.

Colchester university visits - looking into university life and opportunities; by invitation.




Trips including The Knitting and Stitching Show for GCSE Textiles and local and national galleries to support and inspire creative journeys in Art and Design.

Weekly after college Art clubs for all year groups.

Practical roadshows from Colchester Institute.

The GCSE Design and Technology course is designed to prepare students to participate confidently and successfully in an increasingly technological world. We are also offering the opportunity to study GCSE Engineering for those students who will go on to take higher-level courses in engineering or a similar subject.