Gifted and Talented – a blast from the past?

Gifted and Talented appeared as an action point on our SIP last year.  It’s totally new to the school and has left a lot of staff confused.

Some history: G+T first appeared in schools with the inception of Excellence in Cities (1999) and was in all schools about five or six years later. OFSTED looked for evidence of it, and you were judged by it. Schools had to have their top 10% (ish) of pupils identified and show how they were using the money given to support G+T (in EiC schools) to support and develop those pupils.

I was G+T Leading Teacher at my last school, and so offered to take the lead once again. It’s tricky, in an SLD/PMLD school to identify and ‘label’ your high achievers – even more so when I can find no mention of a requirement for G+T provision in OFSTED (not since 2009), or anywhere else for that matter. At one time, G+T was part of Every Child Matters; that’s not with us any more. Now it appears that we will be judged on

the extent to which the education provided by the school meets the needs of the range of pupils at the school, and in particular the needs of disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs

and showing

pupils make progress relative to their starting points

Forgive me, but under the banner of ‘inclusion’ and the fact we are a small school – surely just making the point that every pupil needs to make progress should be good enough for our teachers?

But no, myself and a TA have written a policy, delivered two INSET sessions, used the available data to pull together a suggestion of our ‘gifted’ pupils and asked class teachers to suggest ‘talented’ pupils. We’ve also asked subject leaders to contribute what is available in each subject to stretch and challenge these pupils. Yet still some staff (at all levels) show a lack of comprehension of what we are asking of them. Just because a pupil is ‘good at’ something, doesn’t mean that they are necessarily our top pupil or two.

As I type this, I remember taking over the role in my last job. The G+T register was (mostly) able girls who sat and worked. Very few boys. Checking against the data (FFT and all that) showed that staff were mis-identifying pupils based on output not ability. Maybe, with time, we’ll get there with this place.

I’m still not convinced it’s necessary though, and it really does feel as if we are paying lip service to the  whole thing, to be abandoned once OFSTED have been and we realise that, actually, without a significant timetable re-write, we won’t be able to deliver meaningful extension sessions for our high achieving pupils.

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