G & T - is is just a fiddle?

(33 Posts)
orsino111 Mon 15-Apr-13 18:57:05

Hi,
I'm a dad, but I can't think of a better forum upon which to ask this question.

In a telephone conversation between my missus and a year head at my son's (State) school, it was mentioned by the head that he was enrolled on the 'talented & gifted' scheme. He has an aptitude for science reflected in his exam results, is science ambassador for his school and has done some public events with other pupils.

Which was news to us (and him). We've not heard anything like this mentioned, not received a letter or literature, and it wasn't mentioned when we went to parents evening just recently, or received his written report for the year. Our lad knew nothing about it.

Nor has he been engaged on anything seemingly G & T-specific, not been offered additional tuition etc. Fortunately he's very sporty/athletic so he's invariably in a state of perpetual exhaustion and not likely to want to do anymore of anything, academic or otherwise.

But the question is - seeing as the school was unable to get around to telling us his parents, let alone the pupil - is this G & T thing just a fiddle? Perhaps to just add names to a roll so some funding can be secured from the Dept for Education? Are schools actually expected to do anything with these so-called G & T pupils beyond saying they have one or more at the school?

If he really was enrolled on a G & T scheme, how could we tell anything was different, even if the school decided best to not tell us?

LaQueen Mon 24-Jun-13 21:20:59

I have worked in some schools, where the top 20% of each class are all classed as being G&T. Which is a bit daft.

Luckily, our DDs school don't do this. DD2 is G&T, but properly so, as in she's in the top 0.01% nationally, according to her HT. But, even during that conversation 2 years ago, her HT made no definite mention about G&T - just some comments about trying for extra funding for DD2 (didn't happen).

I only found out DD2 was officially classed as G&T, by her school a few months back, when one of the governors dropped it out - according to her there are only 3 children in whole school classed as G&T, and DD2 was one of them. News to me?

DD2 is given extension work, differentiated homework and has in the past worked with the class above (this wasn't a success, older children didn't take kindly to her whupping them at maths...and she lost touch with her friends, in her own class).

To be honest...I don't think DD2 is stretched nearly half as much as she could be? But, the school have limits, and only limited time. She's happy at school, that's the main thing - and in two years time she'll go to a very good girls' grammar, where I'm confident that they'll really put her through her paces smile

cory Mon 24-Jun-13 09:41:48

OP. if he is science ambassador for his school and has been involved in public events, then he has done something. It doesn't have to be 1-1 coaching; from what you tell us he has had extra encouragement and involvement in science. Doesn't sound like a fiddle to me.

ladyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 23-Jun-13 23:49:46

It's horrible to move them around so much. His bursary was withdrawn from his current school in October (finances of the school) and it was so stressful thinking he'd have to move again and knowing that there was no where else. It's all sorted now, thank God, but we've had some real nightmares with other schools due to bullying (staff as well as pupils!), mainly due to his poor social skills. It's always the last thing that you want as it's never in your child's best interests but there's no choice.

I try and teach him but he doesn't seem able to use what I've taught him in new situations so has to be taught again. He's absolutely right with the smoking but he's a teenager now and it's not as 'cute'. He told a couple off for swearing a few months ago but because he was inside a bus shelter they thought it was me and gave me a load of verbal abuse. It's not safe for him to do this, not for him and those around him.

There's no harm in being diagnosed with Aspergers as it does open doors to help. There comes a time when those cute little quirks stop being cute and start to become a problem and it's good to have the support in place. I think the social skills books are great but they can only cover so many scenarios and you do find that, in some cases, the social skills teaching can be like locking the door after the horse has bolted.

Academically, I'd encourage him to learn about subjects that they don't teach in school as it will reduce the chance of him being bored. We used to do a lot of extension work, so if they were learning about the egyptians we'd go to the museum in London to see the Rosetta stone and do some extra work on that. There's also music. You may find that your son is happier when he starts school as he'll be busy with all of the subjects so has less time to focus on one thing. They may expect him to 'learn' the letters like the other children but only so that he doesn't feel left out. His reading book will be far different, my son was able to read whatever he wanted to.

Just ignore other people, it's easier not to mention it in all honesty. They will say 'oh, isn't he a bright boy' when he starts to speak to them and it's better just to smile and say 'oh, he does like to talk' or something along these lines otherwise they won't get it or will have you pegged out as some sort of tiger mum. You're better off being laid back and letting him get on with it. Google is your friend but it's also OK to tell him that you don't know. wink

Smiler9891 Sun 23-Jun-13 23:17:30

Oh, I love the smoking thing - brilliant! Our son is 3 in August, so I can't wait to see how he turns out! He told me tonight that a Nebula is a cloud of gas and dust, and that the sun is a ball of burning gas. He also told me that he thought the sun would be quite heavy to carry, bless him. I don't think he's 'severe' enough to be classes as Asperger's, but he definitely has autistic traits. We have to plan with him, and use social stories quite a bit so that he understands what's happening and when. He is quite social, and though he was quote slow to develop it, he has recently started playing imaginatively, which don't really trigger an ASC diagnosis. However, he needs planning and structure, dislikes messy play and is just super intelligent. Like your son, he was able to recognise complex shapes (hexagon, crescent, heart etc) by about 13 months, he could count to ten (though not verbally) by about 8 months, and has recently been obsessed with dinosaurs (he can name them, and categorise them etc). However, he tends to get to a point where he feels he's exhausted all he needs to know about something, then all of a sudden that's it.He's no longer interested. We're moving onto space at the minute...I just wish people would believe me. I can see in their faces that they think I'm making him out to be smarter than he is. :/ He started reading about 6 months ago, and now reads road signs, shop signs, aisle labels etc, in fact anything he possibly can. I already have to turn to google to answer some of his questions! I'm just pleased that there are people in a similar situation, because I sometimes feel as though my concerns are unjustified because A) No one else takes them seriously, and B) He's not diagnosed/categorised in any way, but the number of parents that seem to struggle to keep their children in one school is unreal. I find this particularly worrying because of his need for structure, it wouldn't do him any favours at all to keep chopping and changing schools. x

ladyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 23-Jun-13 23:01:52

sad Fingers crossed. They don't usually award bursaries or grants for under 11s/13s so it sounds hopeful. It's OK to have one child at one school and one in another, you do have to match the child to the school if you see what I mean. I don't think MN send out notifications so you have to check it. There's a private message facility though, you get notified via email when there's a message. It's up by your post on the right hand side. When you have a message the envelope at the top of the screen goes red.

He's 14 and just been diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder and dyspraxia (they are slow off the mark here). He has hypotonia in his hands and feet so struggles to walk as he finds it painful (may be a bit of the sensory processing disorder at play here too). He has little bits of high functioning aspergers but not enough traits for the paediatrician to say this is what he has. He's generally very lovely and caring but can like to be in control and has firm views on how people should behave. He wants to debate everything which can be very draining. There's no obsessions or none of the other traits. He does get on a lot better with the teachers (he finds teenagers his own age immature) but he's always thought of himself as an adult and I don't think being an only child to a single mum has helped as children living like this tend to take on this role. He's incredibly articulate, he always has been. I have friends who believe that he's been here before (they are not loopy), he is like a little victorian gentleman though and chose his own outfit for a friends wedding; top hat, cane, bow tie etc. grin

He was speaking in sentences at 10 months, could identify all of the alphabet, shapes and numbers up to ten two weeks after his first birthday (I remember because someone bought him a toy bus with the letters, numbers and shapes on the side for his first birthday - and here was me buying him stacking cups!). He started to read at three and within an hour he was reading Mr Men books. He was reading Roald Dahl by the time he started school and just seemed to pick things up very, very quickly. He's always been a bit of a philosopher/deep thinker but he loves everything. He's the only kid I've ever met who managed to score 70% in a RS exam when he only managed to finish half of the paper. He's doing 11 GCSE's and hopes to be a barrister, which will put the annoying debating habit to good use I suppose.

I am on facebook but I don't use it. sad You can apply for DLA even though Aspergers hasn't been confirmed providing he needs more support than a 'normal' child his own age. It's hard raising a child who needs teaching the basic rules of people, especially one who will walk up to strangers and tell them that they shouldn't be smoking because it will kill them. blush

Smiler9891 Sun 23-Jun-13 22:29:22

SaveMeNow. I think there are lot of us in the same boat. I'm going to ignore BoundandRebound's ridiculous comments. The same applies to you as it does to Lady Mary, I have set up a Facebook page specifically for parents of genuinely gifted children where we can talk, and share our experiences or just ask around for tips. You are more than welcome to join, just add me as a friend using this link https://www.facebook.com/gifted.northeast?fref=ts I'm hoping to at the very least get a support network running then perhaps together we can find the answer! :D x

Smiler9891 Sun 23-Jun-13 22:24:49

That's us. sad We're looking at a private school, and they offer a grant scheme but it all depends on how many others apply and how much 'money is in the pot' as to how much of a fee reduction he would receive. Then there's his little sister, and it breaks my heart that I would even consider sending him to a private school full of opportunities, but not her based purely on financial restrictions. But how do you explain that to a child??? :'( Are you on Facebook? Just I don't get notifications from the forum and find it a pain keep finding the thread to check! My Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/gifted.northeast?fref=ts I created the page especially for parents in similar situations to myself, as I figured my 'regular friends' would sharp get bored of my endless campaigning for the Gifted population! I hope you don't mind me asking, but does your son have any other diagnoses? My son is currently being assessed for Asperger's Syndrome, though I'm fairly certain he doesn't have it. I feel awful though, because sometimes I think his life would be easier if her were to be (correctly or incorrectly) diagnosed with ASC because at least there's the funding to support, whereas there seems to be literally nothing forthe Gifted :/ x

SaveMeNow Sun 23-Jun-13 22:18:24

I completely agree with smiler.

BoundandRebound - your posts make me want to cry. This is precisely the problem we have across the country. I have a (genuine) gifted child and it is just not understood in schools.

I am not sure what the answer is though.

ladyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 23-Jun-13 22:08:45

No, it's not right at all. Ds has been to 6 different schools, some state some private. His social skills problems were put down as poor behaviour at 4 of them so rather than offer him support he was told he was naughty. He's at a private school. It's expensive, it takes every penny I earn, but I have no alternative because he's getting the support and they can manage his needs academically. It's academically selective but he's still called 'geek'. I really feel for those families who can't do this as it really isn't fair. sad

Smiler9891 Sun 23-Jun-13 22:00:41

Thank you Lady Mary. It seems to me that a lot of parents seem to move do different areas to find an appropriate school for their children. Surely this isn't fair, or right. I have over 5 years of experience working with ASC/Asp'S children/adults so I have a rough idea of what I'm dealing with. I just can't help but feel that there is a huge gap in education for the small few that need that 'alternative' way of learning. :/ Thank you all for your support though, it's much appreciated. :D x

P.S. Tumble, with respect you are on the 'Gifted and Talented' part of the site. Surely you had to expect an element of parents talking about their gifted and talented children?! Why would we appear on the Special Needs part of the forum if our children aren't classed as special needs???

ladyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 23-Jun-13 18:27:35

Maybe. I'd love to be able to give something back IYKWIM.

tumbletumble Sun 23-Jun-13 18:21:55

LadyMary, that shows why you should keep posting here! You don't have to read the 'my 2yo is reading the encyclopedia' threads if you don't want to...

I think it's important for parents whose DC have a range of abilities to post here and gain support - just as on the SN boards there will be a wide range of needs, from mild to severe.

BoundandRebound Sun 23-Jun-13 18:21:40

I understand completely smiler. On both a personal and a professional level.

You are not talking about G&T the way most here do though, you are talking about a truly gifted child which is supremely unusual. Not 10% of every year group at all.

I also know that with the benefit of some more years, hindsight may well give you a different perspective.

ladyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 23-Jun-13 18:09:14

I wouldn't give up just yet. smile My son is 14 now and if I can help in any way then I will. It's been a very bumpy road so if I can help to make your road a little less bumpy then just let me know. There isn't a lot of provision for very gifted children in the UK, sadly. I did get a lot of advice from the NAGT, have you looked there?

Smiler9891 Sun 23-Jun-13 18:03:53

Thank you. I signed up, hoping to meet some like-minded individuals, but I seem to have frustrated myself further with people who simply do not understand sad

ladyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 23-Jun-13 17:55:49

The deputy head at ds's school has said the brighter the child, the more issues they have, meaning they are more likely to have social skills problems, ASD etc. It's incredibly difficult for any parent to support a very gifted child, they are like a sponge that never fills and, as a parent, it's mentally draining. I really feel for ds's teachers as it must take a lot of work in the classroom. It's not a case of giving extension work for a child that's a couple of years ahead, they never stop and one question leads on to another. Then there's managing their emotional needs as quite often their social skills are no where near their chronological age. Then there's the bullying because they don't fit in with their peers and the self esteem issues which arise from this. There's also piss taking from other adults to battle with, those who will start threads on here saying 'my 2 week old has just read the encyclopedia. Is she gifted?' I don't post on here any more and I know a lot of other parents of G&T children don't either because of this.

Having a highly gifted child is a completely different ball game. I fully agree with Smiler.

Smiler9891 Sun 23-Jun-13 17:51:13

Exactly. And the kids in the very top % need our help.

Niceweather Sun 23-Jun-13 17:39:30

There is an enormous difference between being top 10% (one in 10), top 1% (one in 100), top .5% (one in 200) and the top .01% (one in ??,000).

Smiler9891 Sun 23-Jun-13 16:55:53

And Tumble, I agree. And if the G&T programme serves your son well, then that is brilliant news. :D But unfortunately, this type of programme would not help my son in the slightest as he needs a whole different approach to teaching sad x

Smiler9891 Sun 23-Jun-13 16:54:22

I'm sorry but I completely disagree. When you have spent an afternoon with my very intelligent, very hyperactive 2 year old boy learning about nebulas and nuclear fission (As I just have) I defy you to argue that he isn't gifted and talented. It is a special educational need. He struggles to interact because he is on a level way above his peers, and it therefore inhibits his learning when in a group setting. Why should the bottom 5% receive all the funding because they struggle to learn, yet the top 5% who struggle to learn for different reasons not? The definition of special educational need is a need that affects their ability to learn (social, reading/writing i.e. dyslexia, concentration) please refer to the following government link https://www.gov.uk/children-with-special-educational-needs/overview . That taken into consideration, how can you not class a child who is so intelligent he struggles to keep concentration, a child who has behavioural difficulties because he is so far ahead of his peers as gifted? He has been able to read since he just turned two, yet when he starts school in a year's time he will be made to study 'letter sounds' because the higher level reading books 'aren't appropriate'. I'm sorry I think that this is a failing on his behalf, and many other children out there. Again, I emphasise that I am not talking about the top 10% of children in a school with the bottom 20% of the population. I am talking about seriously intelligent children with social and emotional difficulties, who struggle on a day to day basis because the world around them can't keep up. That I'm afraid is as deserving as a child with low functioning ASC who is yet to speak of any funding and intend to continue campaigning to stop attitudes like yours being the norm.

BoundandRebound Sun 23-Jun-13 14:49:24

Smiler

Bright toddlers abound - it is difficult to judge whether that means gifted and or talented at such a young age or just thats the area of marked development at the moment. Fortunately you can feed that thirst for knowledge with trips, libraries, museums and experiences. A school child who is a couple of years ahead of the bell curve is also not difficult to serve in a school environment (should not be). Perhaps a primary school aged child working at A level or undergraduate level is actually truly gifted, how many of those do you know?

I don't believe that this is a special need and in any shape or form and money should not be diverted from those who truly have a special need in its distinct definition. I would actively campaign against any such definition to be honest.

Tumble
Your child is in the top 10% of his year group on some measure - and it could be anything that puts him there- all round academia, specific subject, sport, art, music etc and you are completely right that he should have an individualised education plan that helps him maximise his potential. Any school should be able to achieve that for all children without a register. Doesn't make them any less bright and schools should not have the option to get out of this remit by holding a register.

The G&T register does more disservice to those who are 11th centile, or not yet found what they are good at, or not reached a development stage or simply weren't front of mind when the selection was made. It was an ill thought out policy by bean counters and not by educational experts IMO

tumbletumble Sun 23-Jun-13 11:51:56

BoundandRebound

The true definition should identify a handful of children in a generation

Why? Who says?

I disagree. My DS1 is G&T at his school. I have no illusions about him - I realise he is a bright kid, not a genius. But he is in the top 10% of his class and the teachers should be aware of this and ensure he is stretched and challenged and continues to make good progress. If the G&T register helps make this happen then it is a good thing.

Smiler9891 Sun 23-Jun-13 11:34:24

BoundandRebound, while I agree that the G&T programmes are poorly designed, and many children are being incorrectly identified as G&T, I also feel that your flippant attitude towards the parents of these children is rather insulting. I am the parent of a genuine G&T son (by which I mean at the age of 2 he can read, he can name and categorise dinosaurs, he can explain atoms, and has a complete and utter fascination with space - this isn't a brag, it's a fact) and I have to say that it is your attitude that makes it difficult for parents like myself to have the needs of our children recognised. I am currently campaigning for G&T to be classed as a special need, and for specialist schooling to be put in place for these children as they actually need a whole different approach when it comes to schooling. Again, I am not talking about the kids in the top set, or the kids who can read a bit better than everyone else, I am talking about seriously smart kids who become bored in school and are subsequently labelled as 'disruptive'. A lot of these children also have sensory disorders, dyslexia, ADHD and autism and they do not need a whole load of extra work thrown at them, they need smaller class sizes, and they need an education that it tailored to allow them to learn at their own pace.

BoundandRebound Sun 23-Jun-13 08:49:45

G & T is a laughable concept, was badly designed and implemented and generally just served to placate parents who cared about that sort of thing. A good school will extend every child's potential

This board has many G & T posters who just have standard bright kids or just very young children who are developing different skills at different rates, it is rare that a child or poster has a truly gifted or talented child. The true definition should identify a handful in a generation and not 10% in a year group in each school. We are delighted it is no longer a reporting requirement at our school.

But it's nice to be proud of your children and parents should be amazed and delighted at their achievements and abilities

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 28-Apr-13 11:20:27

The G&T initiative was created as a result of a court case, where a father tried to sue the LEA for help towards private school fees for his very bright daughter. The LEA's defence was that state schools can cater for all abilities so there was no need for them to provide funding for a private school. The father lost and the government came up with this. Problems with this are that they look for the top 10% in each school, and what may be G&T in one won't necessarily be G&T in another. Ds is at a selective independent secondary and he's at the top of the top set so he's very bright. He spent a term and a half in a state primary (don't ask!) but wasn't identified as G&T (despite reading since 3 and being 4 years ahead in all subjects confused)

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