Is it me or does the expression "gifted and talented" seem a particularly poor use of language to anyone else?

(54 Posts)
thesecretmusicteacher Wed 20-Feb-13 17:05:10

I'm not talking about whether there should be a programme or special treatment for children who are "ahead" in some way here. I don't have an opinion on that.

But the phrase itself..... is it me or does it sound like a parody?

What does it mean to be "gifted"?
What does it mean to be "talented"?

Can one be one but not the other? If not, would it not be preferable to use one word? If so, why are the two words always bundled together like verbal identical twins in the same class....

Was there a committee meeting in which the people who favoured the term "gifted" could not agree with the people who favoured the term "talented"? Was using both terms all the time the only way to end the meeting, even though everyone there would have marked down a 9 year old for such use of language?

I genuinely wonder....

Schmedz Wed 20-Feb-13 17:44:41

I think 'gifted' is supposed to apply to some natural proclivity for learning in some way (IQ) and 'talented' refers to a high level of skill in a particular activities or activities.
It is slightly going out of favour in some circles of education....differentiation, yes. Labelling children as G&T, no.

thesecretmusicteacher Wed 20-Feb-13 17:53:30

ah - as ever I'm late spotting the change of fashion.

good riddance to it I say.

balia Wed 20-Feb-13 17:54:02

Agree with Schmeds - gifted refers to children who are way beyond average in several areas, talented refers to children who have a specific talent in one area.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 20-Feb-13 17:55:59

Yes, it's bonkers. Especially when it's all relative anyway. DD came home a few weeks ago and said 'apparently I'm Gifted and Talented for Art' - yeah, whatever. So much wrong with that sentence I don't know where to start, but the main thing is (sorry dd) she isn't. She's probably one of the most careful, neat and reasonably good at drawing in the class: she does not have a gift for or a talent in Art.

teacherwith2kids Wed 20-Feb-13 18:19:44

In its original formulation, there was seen to be a need to differentiate between the 'Gifted' - those who were way beyond the average in 'typical academic areas' (which sometimes, but not always, may go together with 'high IQ'), and the 'Talented' - those who might have an exceptional ability in e.g. music or sport or dance for example, who might have an ability beyond the norm that needs nurturing and extending, but which might not be identified in 'school / IQ type tests' IYSWIM.

In time, they have become elided to a single formulation... and tbh have become fairly meaningless ... but that was the original thinking.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 20-Feb-13 18:28:07

I agree but I'm also against labelling.
I also don't see how it achieves anything or is easy to understand neither.

For example my dd is very talented in music but so many people say she is gifted (way off the scale)and some traditionally use the phrase gifted to imply a person has been given a gift.

It is not a very good way for anybody to identify with the meaning.

Elibean Wed 20-Feb-13 19:22:34

I shall wonder with you, thesecretmusicteacher (great name by the way - are you?)

thesecretmusicteacher Wed 20-Feb-13 19:56:33

" So much wrong with that sentence I don't know where to start"



Thank you!

thesecretmusicteacher Wed 20-Feb-13 20:08:31

"Gifted and Talented Register" adds a further twist, with Harry-Potter like connotations of a register that is particularly clever.

It's all quite satisfying to analyse really....

Schmedz Wed 20-Feb-13 21:33:14

Another music teacher here...have certainly met many talented young musicians but could count on one hand those who were truly gifted in music!

(As an aside, how much do you HATE this obsession with 'being Grade x'!!!? Where are the people teaching their students to be musicians and develop repertoire and technique!!?)

thesecretmusicteacher Wed 20-Feb-13 22:01:22

Oh Schmedz.....

Well, it has taken two years, but in our school the children now ask "what can you play?" instead.

And I ask them "how many people can you join in with?"

But that's two years' work never letting up for a blooming moment.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 20-Feb-13 22:30:22

Schmedz. Do you find it difficult/ did you find it difficult relating how good the truly gifted musicians were to your colleagues/ other professionals.
I think this could be a problem in a non academic subject, like I said in my post. Our dd is talented in music, not by any grade she has taken but she's always been musical. Now as I said the label to me is not important as dd is not at school anymore. However, it was a contradiction. One of her class teachers said she has a gift, another said she had a talent and should use it. I just think that if people don't understand what is gifted or talented what is the point of a label.

Schmedz. grin we are teaching our dd repertoire and technique along with her other instrumental teachers. Some are grade pieces to give an indication of level. Others are for exams and most are for fun. I find it weird that in principle a person can play 27 pieces and gain a grade 8. Unfortunately, there's not many of us about anymore.

thesecretmusicteacher Thu 21-Feb-13 08:35:17

Morethanpotato . Charles Rosen reported the same problem with piano students

morethanpotatoprints Thu 21-Feb-13 10:04:57

Just going back to the classroom scenario. I have often heard professionals say that just because somebody is G&T in one particular class at one particular time doesn't mean that others won't catch up and therefore the child will no longer be G&T.

To me a person who is gifted or talented irrespective of what particular label they are given, they should always be so, by definition.

Therefore, I completely agree with TOSN. Really G&T imo wil be streets ahead of peers, not just those from their own school or area.

Hamishbear Thu 21-Feb-13 10:38:30

I thought 2% of children were gifted - 97th percentile plus?

I believe in our school it's done by CAT IQ type test (giftedness). So it's not attainment dependent I think (at least for us).

morethanpotatoprints Thu 21-Feb-13 11:02:02


I heard it was the top 5% in a class that were G&T. I don't think the system is clear at all.
Also if a dc is in the top whatever % and the following year are not because others have caught up, or new people joined the class, or the child changed schools then they are no longer G&T. This seems contrary to many beliefs that a true gift or talent is something innate, not here one minute and gone the next.
Maybe it should be judged in a different way perhaps? I don't know how though. Maybe we should just think of the dc as more than able in a particular subject (s) and provide relevant extension exercises and allow them to progress naturally.

indyandlara Thu 21-Feb-13 13:22:54

We no longer use the phrase. We now use highly able. If you have a highly able child in your class there should be a plan in place for how their needs are met, just as there would be for a child with any additional support needs. When the ASN legislation changed in Scotland the scope of what was covered did too.

Terranova Thu 21-Feb-13 13:40:52

I thought every school had a gifted set of children, that being the top 10% of each class, but a lot of people, actually roll eyes at it, as in many cases it's down to the extra work parents are putting in at home, or that the child is just better at a certain subject, at that time compared to class mates, rather than actually being a genius.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 21-Feb-13 14:10:11


I totally agree with this. Our dd has been brought up in a house of music and has self studied from being a tot. She has regular lessons and has done since she was about 4.5. It is no wonder she was above her peers at school and this in itself shouldn't warrant a label of G&T. To me what constitutes the label is innate ability, drive, ambition, being able to acquire certain skills in a really quick time. She knew when she was 3 what she wanted to do and doesn't seem as though she'll stop until she gets there. She has 2 older brothers who were the complete opposite where music was concerned, even though ds2 had a voice of an angel, just wasn't interested.

Schmedz Thu 21-Feb-13 15:49:29

More than...our school doesn't have a G&T register anymore so no problems convincing anyone! The truly gifted musicians only need to perform for all to be aware of what they have. Talented children tend to be able to perform more difficult repertoire than similar aged peers (whether they do it well or not varies! I don't understand this obsession with accelerating your child through 'the grades') especially when you come across so many 'grade 8' youngsters who are actually nowhere near deserving of that title due to the incredible lack of musical maturity, secure technique or breadth of repertoire. They may have passed an exam but they are not musicians.

Ronaldo Thu 21-Feb-13 15:56:23

IME G&T is just a PC phrase designed to make people feel its not just others who are SEN . I used to be the keeper of the G&T register in my last school. G&T was defined as the top 10% in that school in terms of ability range.

This did not relate in any absolute or measurable way outside the school. In fact most of our G&T there wouldnt even make it out of the " norm" on the bell curve. It was sad because often these young people would go off to G&T days hosted by a local university and find themselves well behind the G&T from the local grammar and independent schools, whose rangeof ability was far broader and had more of a selection at the top end.

In other circles G&T was always a descriptor of an ability (IQ)_ score of around the top percentile of the population or better.

Where practical skills were concerned we used the same criteria for identification - but somehow our most gifted sports/dance/drama persons or musical persons never matched the olympians in training at the nearby independent or those musicians who had scholarships to the Cathedral School or even the two youngsters who got places at the Royal Ballet School.

It was an is a nothingness at best and actually I think pretty awful for the kids concerned at worst.

Schmedz Thu 21-Feb-13 16:12:49

Couldn't have said it better myself, Ronaldo!

morethanpotatoprints Thu 21-Feb-13 21:53:52


Music to my ears. If you pardon the pun.

DD won our local Young Musician comp and sang like an angel, she just has something when she sings. Quite spooky really, the judges described it as unworldly presence. (Not sure I'd want that on a c.v)
There was a 6 year old who had just gained distinction at grade 5 piano. Now I know that technically this is some achievement. But listening to the child play showed lack of emotion, style, and maturity. What else could you expect from a 6 year old.

I am so glad your school doesn't do G&T anymore, just my opinion but its worthless.

ReallyTired Thu 21-Feb-13 22:02:36

I thought the label of gifted and talented had been replaced by "more able".

Do well in music, sport or academics is often down to application rather than any innate gift. I feel that labelling a child as gifted at an early age can be really damaging. It can make them big headed and have a real culture shock when they get to the point where they actually have to work to achieve sucess.

So far, dd (14) has been gifted and talented in drama, and just recently inb chemistry. Some of her friends have been identified as such in geography although they no longer take the subject. Dd and I find it all most amusing.
Originally, I believe there were government funded holiday courses, and it was a way of allowing less middle class children access to the benefits of having parents able and willing to provide extras.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 21-Feb-13 22:18:53

Really tired.

Yes I agree with you concerning the culture shock when they actually have to work. However, I think there can be cases of innate ability but agree that unless this is encouraged with a lot of work will amount to nothing. I have seen this with my own dd, the fact she has lived with music all her 9 years, practices well and works hard. However, she picks instruments up really easily and gets to a good standard quickly and has shown ability from a few months old.
She didn't speak for a long time and had speech therapy during pre school years and is completely average and even below average academically. However she was echoing bird song in her pram, harmonising to music whenever she heard anything. She wasn't taught to do this she just did it. Trains, emergency vehicles, she just emmulated the pitch of the sound.

EvilTwins Thu 21-Feb-13 22:30:57

We're now calling it "Able" rather than G&T. I teach dram, so in some ways identifying those with a particular ability is easy. We do a lot of work with out local theatre so I tend to start with those who are "able" or "talented" simply because they're the ones with the biggest interest in the subject. Essentially it's a box ticking exercise for the school- proving to OFSTED that we're catering for the top end of the ability range [cynic]

EvilTwins Thu 21-Feb-13 22:31:43

Drama, not dram. blush

NewFerry Fri 22-Feb-13 07:47:01

When my DS started secondary, being identified as academically gifted meant that you achieved over 130/2 ish in the cat sores. From that, the school applied for you to join NAGTY. The threshold was then lowered a few years later, then NAGTY was disbanded!
From our experience, the only advantage in being recognised was that DC were able to access enrichment courses at Kilve which we paid for, and which they thought were fun as they covered areas not covered in the school curriculum.

PolkadotCircus Fri 22-Feb-13 08:45:58

I think it's pants. I was a teacher and in all the years of teaching some quite able children only came across a couple of truly what I regard as gifted kids.

I'm in the interesting position of having twins one of which is getting sent on some G&T courses (whatever that means) and one which isn't.
Both kids are bright however one is also driven and is the one being sent on said courses.

His twin is equally as bright and in some ways brighter however he isn't driven,is shy,can daydream etc. He also matured later. Annoys me that he and others will get nothing.He complains of finding some lessons easy and being bored.A lot of the other kids going seem equally driven/confident as the son that is going or have parents with a lot of drive.Should drive/confidence be a marker of G&T?

I agree with whoever said it's just a label they plonk on a top percentage to offset SEN provision.It is cop out.Yes these courses are lovely(spot on for my ds)and will benefit my son (would hugely benefit his twin and several others too I suspect)however they are bloody expensive and not all could afford them(my parents are paying)and really enable teachers to not stretch kids as they can say "well we sent them on a G&T course"confused

What do the other able/bright kids not in that very top percentage get-even less!

thesecretmusicteacher Fri 22-Feb-13 09:57:35

so, good intentions, and with our archaeologist hats on it's possible to disinter the original intent behind the phase (thank you teacherwith2kids).

I suppose with all these things, there's an initial thrust of energy and then it moves beyond its sell-by date.

If I were to say to my child "you are gifted and talented in science" and encourage him to repeat and use such a phrase, it would be tantamount to saying:
"mangling the English language is fine"
"clear communication is not important"
and undermine the work his teachers are doing in his literacy classes, and that's before you even get to analysing the meaning of the phrase.....

so I'm glad they are getting rid. "Very able" sounds much better! But perhaps in seven years' time that will sound silly too.

CecilyP Fri 22-Feb-13 12:59:23

No, 'very able' just sounds like the normal English that we all understand. G & T doesn't sound too odd when applied to something like music, but when someone writes, 'DD is gifted and talented at reading', it just sounds utterly ridiculous.

ReallyTired Fri 22-Feb-13 13:22:47

Our school uses the the expression "more able". I feel that "more able" is a fair way of saying that a particular child is in the 10% of a particular cohort at a moment in time.

My went to a gifted and talented workshop for science (paid for by the school). The sad thing was that half the kids didn't want to be there. It would be interesting to know how many free school dinners children get to go to gifted and talented workshops.

richmal Fri 22-Feb-13 15:10:53

I much prefer the term "able". "Giftedness" seem fixed and unalterable, where as"ability" is something which can be improved with work or practice.

Niceweather Fri 22-Feb-13 16:03:40

NAGC are now called Potential Plus UK and are using the term "High Learning Potential" or HLP rather than G&T.

Mintberry Fri 22-Feb-13 16:48:21

I think getting labelled 'gifted and talented' is a bad choice of words because it marks that group of children out as superior to their peers at such an early age. You wouldn't call a class for the children who were behind "slow and untalented", would you? It should imply equality at both ends.

Besides, being a quick learner in Primary doesn't remain true for your whole life. I was in a G+T type thing at that age, and am the first to admit that I'm actually pretty average intellectually as an adult.

Schmedz Fri 22-Feb-13 18:03:20

You must be so proud of DD. I hope she continues!

I do often wonder where these very young children that gain high level grades have to go when they have 'done' them all. There is a level of maturity that informs the best musicians, and with the best will in the world, a young child can not have that. And yet they manage to pass the exams, so it is very confusing!

LaQueen Fri 22-Feb-13 18:10:12

I think the term G&T is quite misleading...I know that at many schools, they simply declare the top 10% as G&T, without comparing them against any kind of national standard.

I think for a child to be considered truly gifted in a subject, then they need to come within the top 1-2% on a national level.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 22-Feb-13 18:34:05


I totally agree. I checked out you tube for pieces for dd to sing in festivals, auditions and exams. It is amazing how many dc aren't just preparing for the higher exams but especially in singing attempting unsuitable material.
I don't think there's any excuse either, its not like the leading music schools and conservatoires specify achievement at any grade, let alone the higher ones. They want to see ability to study intensively and musical awareness. So to many a grade 2 isn't gifted or talented in any way, because people tend to go for the latest grade passed, which imo says nothing much.

Oh yes we are proud of her, but don't tell her too often to keep her groundedgrin. To keep me grounded I don't show off with other parents, or do the I'm so proud speech. smile

Schmedz Fri 22-Feb-13 22:01:46

Sadly music scholarship applicants to senior school are often set minimum grade requirements (although there are some sensible schools which request references from teachers as to approximate level for those who haven't taken exams). A shame as it means the very able who may have started an instrument in year 5 or even year 6 but made exceptional progress are likely to be excluded.
As for keeping the children grounded, I feel very sorry for my DDs with a music teacher for a parent...they will never ever believe they are better than they really are. However, I am all for cheering them on for their achievements (but like you, not too often!) to other people. Am feeling particularly proud of DD1s very hard work in recently being awarded a music scholarship. She is now working at around Grade 5 level on piano after having learnt for around 18 months. Wish the same progress was being made with violin!

morethanpotatoprints Fri 22-Feb-13 22:41:52


Ha Ha, violin is best learnt slow and steady so I'm assured. We have had same thing dh teaches dd saxophone and within a month she is playing grade 3 stuff and has a lovely sound. Violin for 2 years to get to same level. Singing about gr 4 in a year. She hasn't taken all these grades yet and I'm saving some cash and just going for the gr5 in them all at once I think, depending on what dd wants obviously. It does seem a shame to grade or level and test dc all the time. It must be counter productive to having fun.

Schmedz Sat 23-Feb-13 09:27:25

The exams are SO expensive, aren't they? I am amazed how many families seem to have the spare cash for music tuition in 3 instruments, Specialist courses, exam after exam after exam, junior academy/colleges and many are paying private school fees as well!!

BooksandaCuppa Sat 23-Feb-13 10:27:08

Ds's school (independent) uses the term 'advanced potential' which I think is a better expression.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 23-Feb-13 14:42:13


We are lucky that dh is a musician and he teaches privately so dd can access quite a bit for nothing. However, she still plays 2 instruments that dh can't teach her and there are the exams too. We don't pay school fees as dd is H.ed but she also does dancing. So all told its around £50 per week, just for her.I think many parents are too scared to add up the costs, we find this at dancing. I don't think many would continue if they thought about it, lol.

ReallyTired Sat 23-Feb-13 15:02:48

Music exams aren't essential. Why do people enter their children in for every grade, especially if they are "gifted" at music. Ds skipped grade one and my nephew has only done grade 3.

There are lots of ways of giving a child a chance to perform without exams. My son's school had a talent contest and allows children who play instruments to play in assembly. Ds also played at church and raised £21 for christian aid playing guitar. (Threats that if the old dears didn't contribute that he would bring the violin.. Heh! Heh!)

thesecretmusicteacher Sat 23-Feb-13 18:11:50

Ds's school (independent) uses the term 'advanced potential' which I think is a better expression.

Call the language police someone, we've got another one...

BooksandaCuppa Sat 23-Feb-13 19:06:27


teacherwith2kids Sat 23-Feb-13 19:09:14

DS and DD both play the clarinet.

I believe that one of them is c. Grade 2-3 and the other is c, Grade 4-5, only because some of the books that they learn pieces from are labelled 'You have just passed Grade 3' etc

morethanpotatoprints Sat 23-Feb-13 21:30:39


I know many parents of dc in selective and private schools like their dc to do all exams as they pay a lot of money for lessons and they are a bench mark of progress as far as some are concerned.
In the state sector many music teachers enter dc for every exam to meet targets, again a measure of progress.
I agree with you though, they aren't necessary. My dd plays 4 instruments and wants to be a pro musician, she won't do every exam because on top of lessons I can't afford them all.

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 24-Feb-13 17:05:55

"advanced potential" is, I think, another misuse of language.

One can have potential - real potential, lots of potential, bags of potential even.

One can be advanced.

One has potential first. One becomes advanced later. One can have the potential to become advanced (though we are now getting very ugly with our language).

One's potential, however, cannot be advanced. This would suggest that the potential has somehow been advanced, as if pushed forward along a train track.

I'll wager a committee is responsible for "advanced potential".

It's deja vu!

notamomtokids Tue 26-Feb-13 13:07:58

Great post Ronaldo

LaQueen.....I agree.

Are there really so many children out there that are G&T or have advanced potential??? Where I am every other mother claims this label for her child and as far as I can see it’s certainly not the case.

Not being cynical or negative about them, but as a child I was great at reading (I was about 3yrs old) and my mum was really proud of me. Later on, all my peers caught up with me. It wasn’t that I was gifted in any way, it was just that I was a slightly more developed in that area, but it all levelled off later.

Strangly, here in Spain, the label is seen as a badge that they all want, but for me those that they label in this way are normally the socially deficient ones.

Schmedz Tue 26-Feb-13 19:56:19

Thoroughly agree taking all the grade exams is unnecessary...but understand it can motivate and focus some students. Also I am pretty sure you need grade 8 as a prerequisite for Diplomas, which have some merit (and I believe can be counted towards some university studies). Rules might have changed though since I did mine all those years ago!

pixi2 Tue 26-Feb-13 20:02:10

G&T are absolutely feckin useless expressions (inserts angry face). I only learnt I had a higher than average IQ at uni undergoing IQ testing as a laugh as part of a psych grads doctorate.

How the hell did my supposed teachers miss it? Even worse, made me think I was below average academically?

Rant over.

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