From Able to Remarkable

Help your students become expert learners

By: Robert Massey


Or purchase digital products from our partners:


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 222 x 182mm
Pages : 288
ISBN : 9781785834356
Format: Paperback
Published: October 2019

In From Able to Remarkable: Help your students become expert learners, Robert Massey provides a pathway to help teachers guide their students through the gauntlets of the gifted, the underpasses of underachievement and the roadblocks to remarkable on their learning journeys.

What makes remarkable students remarkable? Attributes such as resilience, curiosity and intelligence may come to mind – and we might also add others, such as intuition and tenacity. But what has helped make them what they are?

Were they born this way, or did their 'remarkabilities' emerge during their schooling? Such questions may make teachers feel uneasy, prompting them to reflect on the sometimes limiting scope of what is often labelled as gifted and talented provision' in their school.

Robert Massey argues, however, that these remarkabilities are there, latent and dormant, in many more students than we might at first acknowledge. In From Able to Remarkable Robert shares a rich variety of practical, cross-curricular strategies designed to help teachers unearth and nurture these capabilities and signpost a route to the top for every learner.

Informed by educational research and evidence from the field of cognitive science, the book talks teachers through a wide range of effective teaching and learning techniques ' all of which are appropriate for use with all pupils and not only with top sets or high attainers. Robert also shares ideas on how teachers can improve their students' abilities to receive, respond to and then deliver feedback on both their own work and that of others. To complement the feedback process, he presents practical methods to help teachers make questioning, self-review and greater student ownership of their questioning within lessons a staple of day-to-day classroom interaction.

Venturing beyond the classroom, the book also explores approaches to whole-school provision for high-attaining students and offers some robust stretch and challenge to educational leaders in considering what widespread excellence in education might look like.

Suitable for teachers and gifted and talented coordinators in both primary and secondary schools.

'How to help your students become expert learners' – click here to read Robert's blog post on NACE.

Picture for author Robert Massey

Robert Massey

With over two decades' worth of experience as a history teacher, Robert Massey has for the past six years led the Scholars' Programme at Bristol Grammar School. He has a particular interest in supporting his colleagues in the provision of stretch and challenge opportunities for high-attaining students. He regularly speaks at education conferences.

How to help your students become Expert Learners' - click here to read Robert's blog post on NACE.

Click here to read Robert Massey’s blog.


  1. -‹This book explores ideas for stretching and challenging high-attaining students.

    At the basis of this is the premise that many more students have the capabilities to become remarkable, with the top being achievable for each and every learner.

    Robert Massey has put together a varied range of practical and cross-curricular strategies designed to support teachers in both primary and secondary sectors.

    The book explores many themes with topics such as The Learning Rollercoaster, Purposeful Practice and Collaborative Learning. An excellent toolkit for educators.
  2. -‹Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, “From Able to Remarkable: Help your students become expert learners” is especially and unreservedly recommended as a school district in-service training textbook, and will prove to be an enduringly valued and appreciated addition to college and university library Teacher Education collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
  3. It can be both a pleasure and a challenge to teach pupils who are labelled as -˜gifted and talented-˜. They appear to be able to breeze through the teaching and learning sequence you've planned, making significant strides compared to their peers. But, were these individuals born with talents that help them glide through schooling, or are such attributes developed through life that help them fly ahead?

    In his book, Robert Massey challenges that many of the attributes that gifted and talented show are there, latent and dormant, in many more students who are present in schools. His three-step approach is remarkable in its simplicity, yet the reality of daily teaching, bureaucracy and distractions can us forget the purity of the process. In summary:
    Actions speak louder than words, and the book progresses to explore how teachers, leaders and schools can create a culture where we make pupils more intelligent. Inspired by Dylan Wiliam, who ascertained that students should be exposed to maximally challenging environments from as early as possible, for as long as possible, questioning how setting is down within schools, and exposing learners to quality learning experiences.

    - Teach to the top - scaffolding and supporting students as required,
    - Treat all pupils as if they are capable of high attainment as soon as they enter your classroom,
    - Offer the best enrichment programmes possible.

    Creating the best conditions for learning is given consideration as the book progresses, with Robert exploring -˜The Ideal Lesson', where adults teach, students learn, and students lead the direction of the progress of each session. In the second part of the book, Massey explores -˜The Expert Learner', with a focus on expertise, deliberate practice and motivation. Yet, creativity and scaffolding are justifiably repeated themes throughout the book, and Robert provides ideas and considerations on how to utilise scaffolding strategies within the classroom, for those who need to be nudged into utilising methods that really to help build learning, understanding and progress. Attention is also given towards feedback, collaborative learning and questioning, and each chapter explores key themes for each topic, as well as providing pedagogical questions to consider to help reflect on practice within your local setting.

    The final section of the book explores -˜Excellence for all', including well-being, renaissance scholars, and concluding with a manifesto for excellence. In this final chapter, Robert tries to address the -˜excellence gap' by ensuring that all actors involved in the education of our students commit to excellence in their area, whether that be leadership, parenting, policy, curriculum and so on.

    In a powerful conclusion, Robert addresses the fact that -˜thousands of children fail every year to make the progress they should in schools, particularly those already suffering economic and social disadvantage-˜, and as part of our obligation within the teaching profession, we should evaluate the provision being offered and approach to attainment setting.

    This book cries out for attention to be given to all students in our schools - not those at either end of the ability spectrum - but recognising that each individual has the ability to shine in many different ways. Giving teachers the tools, permission and guidance to utilise pedagogical strategies that can improve teaching and learning, this is certainly a book worthy of a place in any school CPD library.


    - A sensible book that explores strategies to improve teaching and learning in schools.
    - Explores research and theories that have been shown to make a positive difference in classrooms.
    - The book recognises the importance of creativity and scaffolding in helping pupils develop their skills and learning.
    - Offers a wide range of reflective questions to teachers and school leaders to help develop approaches in schools.
    - An acknowledgement throughout the book that most of our students have gifts and talents - often latent and dormant - helping teachers make them believe in their abilities.

    Click here to read the review on UKEdChat's website.
  4. Robert Massey has tackled in a pragmatic, easily read text, a key issue facing many teachers at all levels, of how to make a significant difference to the performance levels of all learners. Within an excellently structured text the author produces an easily read dialogue based on a wide range of practice and research literature which focuses on strategies and systems that work in making access to the top possible for all by unlocking the latent potential of every pupil by setting the bar high to transform “able to remarkable”.

    Teachers and support workers will find the sections on promoting the ideal lesson, activities to stretch and challenge,feedback and self review, promoting collaborative working and teamwork, questioning, and riding the roller coaster of revision all extremely stimulating and thought provoking to build on current effective practice in the efforts to guide learners on their journey from able to remarkable.

    From extensive personal experience of teaching students who have been labelled as “failures”, “written off”, off loaded to off site centres, etc, I found the discussion on “labels stick with us”, “how to expose pupils to appropriate challenging classrooms” and “smash the setting” extremely relevant to the current push to reduce the number of learners being excluded from mainstream schools or being placed on alternative courses

    Overall, I found this book an excellent insight into key issues facing staff in many school. Teachers at all levels will find the text full of practical strategies to regenerate aspirations, move learners from “I can't” to “I'll have a go”, and re-kindle the love of learning and desire to gain success as a positive person
  5. From Able to Remarkable will aid every teacher in schools across the land by taking them on a rollercoaster ride of self-reflection and honest questioning, while also detailing the methodology of how we can encourage, support and inspire learners to step up to the challenge of reaching the highest echelons of academic success.

    From the start, From Able to Remarkable challenges the reader by provoking thought around how we can help learners to be their very best selves while considering social mobility and the excellence gap. Every chapter highlights key themes, asks relatable questions and presents evidence from a wide range of sources for consideration, reflection and discussion. Massey's humility, passion, humour and personal learning journey is highlighted throughout, stimulating debate and supplying a wealth of strategies to guide the reader through directed and purposeful evaluation of the educational diet we provide for our learners.

    Is it ever acceptable to teach to the middle, or should we - by uncapping potential and allowing every learner in the room to experience success - be aiming for the highest pinnacles of educational success? This book will definitely help you answer this question. 
  6. When I opened Robert Massey's From Able to Remarkable I had one of those special awe-and-wonder moments as the words -˜All students can and should become expert learners' brought the biggest of smiles to my face. Finally, someone is sharing with us the formula to how we can guide, mentor, coach and exemplify expert learning in the classroom. 

    I quickly became hooked into the wonderful world of Robert's craft of wisdom and gems of delight interwoven with his enlightened use of educational language and so many posing questions. He is so well-versed from reading the many influential texts and literature available on effective teaching that he possesses an outstanding ability to connect the research and philosophies of learning with his own perspectives on pedagogical approach. This is intertwined with the artful craft that Robert has with words, which helps the reader to unpack some very complex approaches. 

    The refreshing approach to collaborative learning which Robert presents applies to every teacher in every classroom. He works on the premise that collaborative learning improves behaviour, and the context for his narrative is exemplary and magical in every way. The stretch and challenge activities provided are a welcome feature too, offering plenty to get the reader to think, plot, plan and even stretch themselves as learners to go beyond what they would normally offer or consider as enrichment.

    From Able to Remarkable is a book imbued with deep thinking, questioning and professional guidance, and a must-read for all teachers who want to take their learners from able to remarkable.
  7. Robert Massey's From Able to Remarkable offers a highly accessible and engaging read for teachers - and a road map for creating a climate for opportunity and challenge. Both practical and reflective in equal measure, it takes the very best of what we know and shows how learning is shaped by context, ethos, classroom practice and a relentless focus on the learner.
  8. From Able to Remarkable is an excellent book tackling a complex and important issue that all teachers and schools wrestle with to varying degrees of success. Robert has done a superb job of setting out a coherent philosophy and a manifesto for change, marshalling a wide range of supporting evidence and examples, while also offering readers a superb catalogue of practical ideas to bolster their teaching repertoire. 

    In Robert's depiction of the -˜expert learner' he draws on his experience and insight gleaned from years of working with remarkable students, which lends his writing and analysis a ring of authenticity that many other books don't have when talking about -˜challenge'. I especially loved Robert's exposition of his manifesto for excellence and the wonderful concept of -˜twenty-first  century renaissance scholars', both of which provide the blend of inspiration and deliverability that schools and teachers crave. Perhaps best of all is that, in the concept of -˜remarkability', Robert has taken ideas about ability that get swamped with legitimate concerns about determinism and elitism, to convey a truly inclusive view of the route to excellence. 
  9. First and foremost, From Able to Remarkable is a book for teachers, written by a teacher - and there is no doubt that all students and all teachers will benefit from the approaches and strategies detailed within. It is undoubtedly an impressive accomplishment, bringing together a whole host of research, debate and practical ideas to implement the best practice in getting the best out of every student.

    Massey's tone is light but thoughtful, and his arguments and suggestions are backed up by examples that elucidate the points made while demonstrating that they are put forward by someone who teaches in the real world. He tackles the common misconceptions of teachers, parents and the
    students themselves and suggests several tried-and-tested ways to raise the achievement of the whole school. The book's structure is perfectly balanced as well, with each chapter stating its key themes and considering the issues and evidence before concluding with a succinct summary. This is a book I will refer to often, and the layout makes it easy to dip back into and find the precise sections you are looking for.

    As a teacher myself, I hope that From Able to Remarkable is read by as many teachers as possible at all levels of our profession. If you have any role in managing the more able students, read this book and save yourself several years of trial and error.

    A valuable addition to the CPD library of any teacher who wishes their students to achieve their very best in school and beyond.

Write your own review