THE POLICY ON GIFTED CHILDREN?
Short answer- there isn’t one
Ofsteds Annual report found that ‘too many of our most able children and young people are not reaching their potential in our non-selective state secondary schools’.
Not good, considering that it is (see below) a ‘fundamental responsibility of every school in England to ensure that their most gifted pupils receive an education that engages and stretches them at school, as well as inspiring them to reach their full potential.’
So, what is government policy on Gifted and Able Children? There used to be, of course, a specific programme to identify and support Gifted Children in state schools. No longer. Apart from pious words of support there really isn’t a policy, or at least there isnt one that works.
The Fair Education Alliance has just produced a report that recommends that the weighting of the Pupil Premium should be shifted so low attaining, disadvantaged pupils rather than high attainers, should get the lions share of the pupil premium. Odd that. Given that it’s the brightest, disadvantaged pupils who are, rather obviously, the most likely to be socially mobile and to have the most chance to access the best universities ,if given a nudge.Its difficult , (actually impossible) to see how this policy could possibly serve to advance these two particular, priority agendas. There is nothing ‘ Fair’ ,surely,about seeking to shift limited resources away from our ablest pupils .As things stand, we know that they are pretty poorly served in our schools system, which is a shame, for both them, and our economy.
This ,for the record , is current ‘policy’ :
‘ The Department for Education has no plans to replace the national Gifted and Talented programme. Our plan for education is to raise standards at all schools so every child, including the most gifted, can achieve their full potential.
It is a fundamental responsibility of every school in England to ensure that their most gifted pupils receive an education that engages and stretches them at school, as well as inspiring them to reach their full potential. Schools are best placed to know and respond to the individual needs of their pupils, including the most able.
The Government has freed schools from the constraints of excessive ring-fencing and bureaucracy. Schools leaders are free to decide how best to use their funding to provide extra support to talented children, including using the pupil premium to support gifted disadvantaged pupils. In addition, we have given teachers the freedom to tailor lessons so that every child is prepared for life in modern Britain, and Ofsted holds schools to account for how well they meet the needs of the range of their pupils, including the most able.’
Motherhood and Apple Pie ,spring to mind.
One thing officials are good at are words. But wordsmiths rarely deliver. Delivery is the hard bit, and that’s where it all goes pear shaped.
As Ofsted says, too many of our ablest pupils are not reaching their potential. Either because these pupils are not being identified and supported. Or the interventions put in place by too many schools are not working.
One must never forget ,of course, that in some schools teachers and Heads are very reluctant to identify their most gifted pupils ,seeing it as elitist. But this is hard to square with the idea, shared by most, that teachers should do everything they can to maximize every childs’ potential .
Responding to evidence in the Ofsted annual report that state schools are failing their brightest pupils Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust said;
“The chief inspector paints a bleak picture of the opportunities for able pupils in our schools. Gifted and talented programmes have been in decline since funding was scrapped three years ago, and it is vital that the Government does more to support programmes for highly able students if they are to reach their potential.
Our polling, published earlier this month, has shown that 80% of parents want to see extra help for bright students.”
(Source Hansard 9 December)