Our school aim states that we ‘inspire, challenge and support every individual to be better than they ever thought they could be’.
To that end we want to ensure that all groups of children meet, and it many cases, exceed their potential; this is particularly true of gifted and talented students. We also want to develop our systems so that emphasis upon Gifted and Talented will impact positively upon ‘every child’.
There are many definitions of ‘gifted and talented’:
- ‘Gifted’ learners are those who have abilities in one or more subjects in the statutory curriculum other than Art and Design, Music and PE.
- ‘Talented’ learners are those who have abilities in Art and Design, Music, PE or Performing Arts such as Dance and Drama.
- ‘Gifted and Talented’ are ‘children and young people with one or more abilities developed to a level significantly ahead of their year group (or with the potential to develop those abilities)’.
- ‘More able’ is a term now commonly used by Ofsted to describe both ‘gifted’ and ‘talented’ students.
The term ‘gifted and talented’ is not to be understood as referring to the most able children in the national population. The term should be seen as relative and refers to the top 5% to 10% of any school, regardless of the ability profile of pupils at the school.
Within the school we recognise that gifted and talented pupils can be:
- good all rounders
- high achievers in one area
- of high ability but have poor literacy skills
We also recognise that those pupils who are gifted and talented do not always show their ability. Such pupils are gifted and talented even though their abilities may be hidden or remain as potential.
Gifted and talented students are identified by making a judgement based on an analysis of various sources of information including:
- Test scores (end of key stage levels); CAT (Cognitive abilities test)
- Teacher nomination (based on classroom observation, discussions with pupils, internal assessments)
- Parental nomination
- Predicted test/examination results
- Reading and Spelling ages using the Suffolk tests
- Reports from previous schools
- Students who may have played sport at a county level or have higher musical grades
This information is collated by the gifted and talented co-ordinator and the assessment co-ordinator and is made available to all staff. The gifted and talented register is regularly reviewed and updated. Students may move on and off the register.
Gifted and talented students are catered for in the following ways:
- The events programme. These are one-off or a series of activities that take place outside normal lessons and usually off-site. They can be with other more able students from other schools. Examples would be the year 7 Maths Superlearning event.
- Challenging in-class provision. We ensure that the needs of gifted and talented pupils are being met alongside those of all pupils. This occurs through carefully planned and differentiated lessons or students being taught in ability settings that enable them to make the greatest progress. We also encourage the development of independent learning by allowing pupils to organize their own work, to carry out tasks unaided, evaluate their work and become self-critical. Our aim is to provide stimulating lessons on a day-to-day basis.
- Gifted and talented learners focus group: This group meets with the gifted and talented co-coordinator to discuss and give feedback on a range of issues. Other activities include attending study skills workshops.
Co-ordination and Monitoring
The gifted and talented co-ordinator has overall responsibility for ensuring that the Gifted and Talented policy is implemented. Monitoring takes place using the college system for tracking students called CAPs (Common Assessment Points). They happen across the year. CAPs report on achievement in that subject and provide an attitude to learning score. If your child is not achieving his potential this will be discussed within the appropriate department, followed by an interview and appropriate interventions. The form tutor will play a pivotal role in liaising with parents in this situation. All departments have access to the Gifted and Talented database, and so it is likely that unsatisfactory standards of work will be addressed even before the CAPs identifies the issue.
What to look for in a Gifted or Talented child?
A more able child may display some or many of these aspects of their behaviour and intelligence:
- An unusual memory
- Passing intellectual milestones early
- Reading early
- Unusual hobbies or interests or an in-depth knowledge of certain subjects
- Intolerance of other children
- An awareness of world events
- Set themselves impossibly high standards
- Prefers to spend time with adults or in solitary pursuits
- Loves to talk
- Asks questions all the time
- Learns easily
- Developed sense of humour
- Likes to be in control
- Makes up additional rules for games
- Often modest about their abilities
What learning best suits gifted and talented students?
We regularly ask more able students how they learn most effectively so we can ensure our teaching is sufficiently differentiated to match their particular needs. This is what they tell us:
Autonomy and Independence
- They like to operate independently and feel they are in control of their own learning rather than be talked at for a whole lesson.
High challenge/low stress
- Gifted and Talented students like to feel they are being stretched and tested to the full range of their ability, however like most children they don’t welcome huge pressure or stress to be associated with those tasks.
- These students particularly like having choices wherever possible about what they learn, in what sequence they learn things and how they learn.
Use of higher order thinking skills
- Although they are good at remembering and showing understanding, the more able thrive when asked to show their capacity to analyse situations or problems, to evaluate, and to be creative. Excessive copying and lower order activities generally tend to switch off this type of student.
- These students relish tasks where there is of no one simple answer, but requires a range of creative solutions or problem solving answers. It is important to stress the acceptance of failure or getting things wrong as a form of feedback.
Limited direction from teachers, but support available when needed
- The more able value the input from good teachers and will require their support at times, but once a task has been set, they like to get on with it with minimum interference from staff.
Activities that are perceived to be ‘fun’
- Gifted and talented students like learning activities that are designed to a bit different, enjoyable and fun. They like an element of competition, particularly boys, either between themselves or groups. Practical activities where they can get physically involved are also especially suitable for this type of learner.
Happy to work collectively as well as being withdrawn
- Although gifted and talented students enjoy being extracted for special one-off activities or support, they are equally happy feeling they can blend in with the rest of the group and work collectively on a task.
For further information about Gifted and Talented provision at Dawlish Community College you can email the Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator. You may also be interested in the Frequently Asked Questions below.
Gifted and Talented FAQs
I have a bright child, but they tend to underachieve. What can I do improve the situation?
There are many possible reasons for this. Occasionally a bright child is lazy. They can often view their ability as a way of doing the minimum and getting away with it.
Parents, carers and teachers need to be firm and direct them to maximize their efforts in order to be truly successful. Sometimes poor organisational skills prevent a child’s true ability being easily recognised. There are many approaches that can be addressed using planning tools, calendars, diaries, checklists and mind maps to organize information. Sometimes, the culture of the peer group views achieving and being bright as not ‘cool’. If this pressure is impacting on your child, contact the school in the first instance. Underachievement may also be attributable to an undiagnosed physical disability, such as a hearing disability or visual impairment. The solution may come from moving the seating position to the front of the class and/or specialist medical intervention.
How can I help my able child get over their fear of failure?
Many bright children have never really experienced failure in their formal schooling. This can have a negative effect in the sense that it limits thinking, stifles imagination and causes children to strive for one correct answer. Most real world problems are not solved like that. Sooner or later perfection will not be achieved and it is better to experience failure earlier rather than later on when it can have deeper psychological effects. Emphasise that failure or getting things wrong should be seen as feedback or a mechanism for becoming even more able and skilled at tasks. Parents can also reduce the pressure for students to continually achieve and strive for ‘excellence’, and instead for their child just to enjoy and value being simply ‘good’.
I have a clever child but he tends to coast along in lessons. What can you do to prevent this?
This will be picked up by the college system for tracking students called CAPs (Common Assessment Points). They happen across the year at 6-weekly intervals. CAPs report on achievement in that subject related to target grades, and provide an Attitude To Learning (ATL) score. If your child is not achieving their potential this will be discussed within the appropriate department, followed by an interview and appropriate interventions. The form tutor will play a pivotal role in liaising with parents in this situation.
All departments have access to the Gifted and Talented database, and so it is likely that unsatisfactory standards of work will be addressed even before the CAPs identifies the issue.
My child gets bored in class which is why she’s disruptive. What can you do to stop this happening?
We need to determine if the child is bored because she cannot cope with the work, or if it is because the work is too easy. If it is due to either of these reasons then your child’s ‘special needs’ need to be discussed. This can be done with the SENCO in the case of your child finding the work difficult, or the Gifted and Talented Coordinator if the work is too easy. In the case of the latter, the Gifted and Talented Coordinator would check if the child has been identified as being Gifted and Talented, and then check across all departmental areas to see if there is a pattern of behaviour. He would then discuss the matter with the appropriate Subject Leader in order to ensure that he/she is being given sufficient opportunity to be stretched etc. Follow-up meetings with the child would be held to check if their issue of boredom has been resolved.
My child finishes her work very quickly before anyone else, which is why she daydreams and is accused of not paying attention. What can you do?
She needs to be given extension work or an opportunity to approach the work in a different way. It is not a case of giving the child ‘more’ but rather opportunities to enquire, evaluate and synthesise material at a sophisticated, deeper level. Staff will endeavour to give every pupil the opportunity to perform at their very best, i.e. part of our aim to personalise learning as far as possible in order to achieve the best in every pupil. All staff have access to the school’s Gifted and Talented database and should be familiar with these pupils, hence reducing the likelihood of this situation arising in the first place.
My son’s teachers are happy with his progress, but I know he can do better. What can the school do?
We are constantly striving to meet and exceed the predicted grades on the school tracking system. If parents/guardians feel that their child is underperforming, then they should speak to either the Gifted and Talented Coordinator or the Key Stage Learning Manager in order to determine if the child is, indeed, working to full capacity or if he is underachieving. Remedial action will be taken immediately if the latter is identified. There is a strong ethos in the school which celebrates success and achievement and all pupils are encouraged to feel part of our learning community.
What are the CATS?
The Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT) is an assessment of a range of reasoning skills. The tests look at reasoning with three types of symbols: words, numbers and shapes or figures, i.e. verbal, quantitative and non-verbal reasoning. These tests have used extensively through most UK secondary schools for many years and are considered to be a very reliable indicator of ability which can be used to forecast future performance. An advantage of CATS are that they tap into general set of prior experiences and are therefore less dependent on the taught curriculum.
What other things can I do to support my child if they are more able outside school?
The websites listed under online resources may be helpful.
If you have any further questions you can email the Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator.