The overall thrust of all DfEE publications is the need to raise standards by targeting higher levels of attainment for all pupils. In particular, in its analysis of National Summary Results in Raising Standards: Standards and Effectiveness Unit (DfEE 1998), the DfEE highlights the concern that only a small percentage of pupils reach the highest levels within the relevant key stages. However, before we can explore how we can begin to address this issue, it is essential to analyse the particular needs of very able pupils. In what ways are the needs of this group of pupils different from the needs of all learners?