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Learning and Teaching should be Inclusive and Enjoyable:

Gifted/Talented Pupils
 

 

Terms such as “the most able” have been used to identify particularly able pupils.   A convention has arisen whereby the terms “gifted” and “talented” have come into use.  “Gifted” is often used to indicate special academic aptitude and “talented” to refer to pupils who are extremely able in the areas of creativity, sport, the expressive arts or, indeed, other areas.

The organisation Children of High Intelligence identifies the top 2% of the population as the specially able (top 5% of under 7s).   In England the DfES has defined gifted and talented pupils as those in the top 5% to 10% of the population of any mainstream school.

This paper will assume a fairly broad definition.

Points Arising from Research

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Achievement is more closely related to social class than to ability.  Fostering the abilities of able but disadvantaged pupils is a key element of inclusion.

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Negative peer pressure can create an environment in which being a high achiever is not “cool” in “academic” subjects (boys are especially likely to be affected by this).

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Focusing on provision for very able pupils can raise overall standards in a school.

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Special abilities need to be nurtured and will not necessarily develop of their own accord.  Darwin and Einstein did not do particularly well at school and many high achievers in contemporary society were not successful at school.

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Lack of challenge can demotivate able pupils.

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Equal Opportunities requirements mean that the most able pupils have special entitlements.

Key Elements of the Gifted and Talented Issue

Identification of Gifted and Talented pupils

Identifying these pupils is perhaps the most important and most difficult task.

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Some approaches focus on previously demonstrated academic ability, but it is perhaps more useful to think in terms of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (see Toolkit section on  Multiple Intelligences) and the very special “non-academic” talents which individuals may have

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Cognitive ability tests have been used, together with teacher evaluations (a Wisconsin approach weighted these 2:1 in favour of tests)

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A Birmingham (England) approach has used a blend of teacher evaluations, assessment records, peer nominations, specialist teacher nominations and self-nomination

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N Lincolnshire advice (see references below) provides an extensive checklist of things teachers can look for in identifying very able pupils.

Classroom strategies

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Teaching approaches are important, such as understanding prior learning/achievement

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Higher order thinking skills can be fostered with appropriate questioning (see Toolkit section on Questioning) - focusing on analysis, synthesis and evaluation, as in Bloom’s Taxonomy

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Pupils can be given a false statement to challenge/explore/research

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Open-ended tasks can be provided, which pupils can explore in their own ways

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Independent learning should be encouraged (see Toolkit section on Independent Learning)

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Reflection and self-evaluation should be promoted

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Pupils should be able to shape their own learning and negotiate with the teacher

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Very able pupils should be given different extension work, not just more of the same

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It is important to plan opportunities for the most able to progress appropriately

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Teaching objectives can be clustered to make learning tasks more complex

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Classroom assistants and student teachers may be used to work with able pupils

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Provision of “scaffolding” (eg Writing Frames) allows able pupils to demonstrate special talents without being handicapped by weaknesses in other areas though for others the removal of scaffolding will allow original ideas/approaches to flourish

Acceleration and enrichment

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More advanced targets than normal can be selected from assessment strands

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Relaxation of age and stage restrictions means that pupils can be fast-tracked

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“Challenge Bags” of demanding tasks can be prepared

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Special homework tasks can be provided

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Enrichment days can be organised

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Such activities can exploit access to ICT resources, not least the internet, often using a research and report format

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Promotion of competitions and awards can provide a focus for  special talents

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University/college students may be available to work with able pupils during holidays and members of the community may be able to share expertise, knowledge or enthusiasm with pupils (NB Child Protection legislation, of course)

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“Masterclasses” can be organised, say for an hour after school, with a parent or member of the community conducting enrichment sessions

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Teaching colleagues often have particular skills which can be exploited

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Big events can be organised - “Model United Nations” events are common in America

Outside the classroom

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Summer (or Easter) schools for very able pupils are established in some areas - they may have very ambitious themes (eg one was based on the medieval concept of beauty)

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Bournemouth provided a 2-week summer school in association with the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, offering activities of a creative, exploratory kind

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Local media may provide a focus for pupils’ work

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FE and HE institutions may be able to provide support/advice for the very able

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Pupils can be encouraged to participate in local Community Council activities

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Involving parents/carers is likely to be extremely valuable

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It is interesting to consider programmes elsewhere such as the Children’s University (Medway, Kent) - see references below

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Materials are available on the internet which parents could use (see references below)

Whole-school issues

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It is important to create an ethos in which it is safe to be a high achiever and in which such achievement is valued

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Appointment of a coordinator for gifted and talented children may help

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Timetabling, accommodation and resource issues are likely to arise

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Pupils should be encouraged to explore, experiment and take risks

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Extra-curricular clubs/activities can play an important role

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Very able pupils benefit from opportunities to work with like-minded pupils, including those from different age groups (Primary-Secondary links may assist here)

Reflection and Discussion

To what extent do you feel that your teaching provides special opportunities for the most able?

Are any of the strategies above worth considering for further development?  How do recent developments in terms of Flexibility in the Curriculum help?

How do we balance development of special talents with ensuring development of basic skills?

Some Activities Relating To the Issue of the Gifted and Talented

Key element

Objective

Action

 

Some examples and suggestions

Identification of Gifted and Talented pupils

N Lincolnshire advice

Have a look at the web site and compare the N Lincs advice with other ideas for identifying very able pupils.  In England the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority provides advice.

Classroom strategies

Teaching approaches are important, such as understanding prior learning and achievement

What do you know about your pupils’ achievements outside the core curriculum?  Find out about this and consider ways in which any special talents can be fostered.

Acceleration and enrichment

“Challenge Bags” of demanding tasks can be prepared

These tasks can be offered to pupils who finish work early, rather than asking them to do more similar work.  It could be interesting to make up laminated sheets of stimulating and challenging tasks for exploration, research etc for pupils to choose from.

Outside the classroom

Materials are available on the internet which parents could use

Providing information for parents/carers could open up possibilities for them to work with their children on challenging internet-based activities.  Look at the Parent Centre site (see below).

Whole-school issues

Appointment of a coordinator for gifted and talented children may help

What sort of specific responsibilities would such a person have?  How would such a role link with core classroom work - or wouldn’t it?

Selected References


Further Reading

A large range of books is available on this topic.  Some education authorities have made use of books by JB Teare:

Able Pupils: Practical Identification Strategies - NACE/DfEE 1996

A School Policy Provision for Able Pupils - NACE/DfEE 1992

Effective Provision for Able and Talented Children - Network Educational Press 1997

 


Websites

www.ablepupils.com/
Scottish site of SNAP (Scottish Network for Able Pupils) aimed at teachers, pupils and parents.

www.ltscotland.org.uk
Search the Learning and Teaching Scotland site for “able pupils” and “gifted and talented”.

www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/secondary/keystage3/
Staff development material - Maths, English, Science and general info.

www.medway.gov.uk/index/learning/giftedpupils/giftedlocalinfo.htm
Information on working with the gifted and the talented in Medway in Kent. 

www.eriding.net/inclusion/gifted_and_talented.shtml
From the E Riding of Yorkshire - Gifted and Talented Pupils: Notes of Guidance to Schools (Can be downloaded or read online)

www.nace.co.uk
The National Association for Able Children in Education

www.nagcbritain.org.uk/
The National Association for Gifted Children

www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/giftedandtalented/
A doorway to a variety of relevant material.

www.nc.uk.net/gt/index.html
Subject-specific advice on teaching gifted and talented children.

www.bgfl.org/services/gifted/files/polsampl.pdf
An exemplar school policy for gifted and talented pupils.


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Last updated 20/08/2010
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