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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Supporting gifted and talented children

Some children excel in particular areas, learn faster than others or have high potential but are underachieving. This is often called 'gifted and talented' but schools could use a variety of different terms. These might include: more able and talented, academically more able, able or gifted. Find out how to identify if your child is gifted and talented, and what extra educational support is available.

What 'gifted and talented' means

'Gifted and talented' describes children and young people with an ability to develop to a level significantly ahead of their year group (or with the potential to develop those abilities):

  • 'gifted' learners are those who have abilities in one or more academic subjects, like maths and English
  • 'talented' learners are those who have practical skills in areas like sport, music, design or creative and performing arts

Skills like leadership, decision-making and organisation are also taken into account when identifying and providing for gifted and talented children.

Identifying gifted and talented children

If you think your child is gifted or talented, you should first discuss their abilities and needs with your child's teacher or headteacher. Some schools have a Gifted and Talented Education co-ordinator whom you could speak to as well. Local authorities may also have a Gifted and Talented lead.

Schools will identify children based on evidence including test results, quality of work and the views of teachers and parents.

Many schools maintain a register of their gifted and talented children. Usually children will move on and off their school's register over time - especially in primary schools - as they develop at different rates to their peers.

Support for gifted and talented pupils

Schools have a responsibility to meet the educational needs of all their pupils. For the gifted and talented, this includes providing greater challenges in lessons and opportunities for pupils to demonstrate and develop their abilities. Schools and local authorities may also provide additional activities beyond the everyday timetable.

If you have any queries about your child's education, you should talk to their class teacher or where available, the school's co-ordinator for Gifted and Talented education. You may also find it helpful to talk to your local authority's Gifted and Talented lead, if it has one.

National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)

The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) runs an independent parent support network to help parents and carers resolve disputes with schools and local authorities. It also offers advice and support to parents and carers of gifted and talented children.

Music and Dance Scheme (MDS)

Parents and teachers are being asked to look out for children with exceptional talent and the dedication required to become top performers. These children can be given specialist tuition. The MDS currently enables more than 2,200 pupils to receive specialist tuition in:

  • eight independent specialist boarding schools in England (four music schools and four dance schools)
  • 21 Centres for Advanced Training (CATs)
  • some choir schools

At the music schools and CATs in the scheme, children aged eight upwards are given expert tuition alongside a good academic education. Children aged 11 and over can attend the dance schools.

All children attending the CATs do so out of normal school hours. The scheme helps parents with the fees and other costs (including travel) associated with their education and training.

A gifted or talented child with potential in either of these two performing arts must meet the individual selection rules for the school or centre. There is usually an audition and an interview. Schools and CATs look for children with exceptional potential and ability, so there will be competition for the places available.

Children are eligible if they’ve been living in the British Isles for at least two calendar years before entering into one of the schools. Special rules apply if a child:

  • has been temporarily abroad
  • is a refugee
  • is the child of a worker from certain other European countries

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