Able, gifted and talented meeting

(22 Posts)
inappropriatelyemployed Sat 18-Jan-14 21:24:18

I was uncomfortable to be invited to a meeting at school for those parents whose kids are on the AG&T register and wondered if anyone else's school dealt with the AG&T 'list' this way. It seems very indiscreet.

We also have a questionnaire asking what we do with DS at home - which is honestly, nothing - and I find that a bit intrusive

Basically, we were told last year that DS2 was on the AG&T 'list' and that there would be individual meetings with the teacher who is responsible for this area.

This has now turned into a letter asking us to take DS (who is 8) for a 'meeting' at school after school to discuss how to further learning in and out of school.

I'm not at all sure that taking DS to an open meeting with other children and other parents to discuss their place on some list is helpful for any child. Will this not just inspire a feeling of potentially misplaced superiority?

I have my doubts about such arbitrary labels in the first place. My schooling took place long before our competitive times and I excelled academically without being labelled and despite coming from a very humble background.

I fear these lists are probably meaningless and end up as a self-fulfilling prophecy to the exclusion of others who may not have had their talent 'noted' or may not have the same advantages.For example, I have an older child who has complex SEN and who is out of school but who is very bright. His abilities were completely overlooked by the standard schooling system. I feel this is arbitrary nonsense.

Is this sort of thing (an open meeting to discuss) par for the course, or an unusual way of dealing with the issue?

I've just got a horrible feeling it'll be a smug little meeting full of middle class mummies feeling special.

But then I am the first to admit I am a horribly inverted snob smile

Dromedary Sat 18-Jan-14 23:13:02

I received letters to say that my DCs had been listed as gifted and talented in specific areas and was invited to one never to be repeated meeting, with the other parents of those put on the gifted and talented list (the children weren't invited, which I think is a good thing). The list is supposedly updated every year, but they skirted round the question that this presumably means that some children are knocked off it! It was interesting to see that there were parents there who are certainly not middle class. Very little was said - I think they mentioned one or two magazines or websites and that was it. Nothing happens in school for gifted and talented children, except that if your child is very lucky / favoured by the teacher they get sent on the odd full or half day to do slightly more advanced maths or whatever with similar children at one of the local schools. This was years ago and there have been no more letters or meetings. Nothing to get excited about. I understand that there used to be more provision but that this was cut a few years back.

columngollum Sat 18-Jan-14 23:32:45

Yes, it may well not be the best way of helping the children, the parents or the teachers themselves. But the very last of these have to work inside the system they are given. I'd be inclined to go to the meeting, if only to see what good it offered either me or my child. (If there was none then no harm done.)

Having a list: call it abc, g&t, leaf and tree, it doesn't really matter. If it produces fruit so much the better. And if it doesn't, well, at least the alphabet soup teachers/administrators recognised the fact that your child was a great learner, even if they could do nothing with that information other than invite you to a strange party that you didn't want to attend.

Perhaps the knowledge that your child is a quick learner will be useful to them whether you attend the party or not.

smee Sun 19-Jan-14 13:42:30

I'd be uncomfortable about that too. Our school don't tell the parents or the kids and it seems better that way to me. The only reason I know about it at all is because DH is a Governor.

pinkdelight Sun 19-Jan-14 14:03:52

I think the name is off-putting and thought that was being phased out, but in principle if your kid was on the SN register you'd expect and get such additional help to support your child's learning to maximise their potential and I don't see how this is so very different. Fine if you're not interested, am sure no one's forcing you to do the extra work and am sure you do stuff already, but some people might find it helpful if they weren't particularly academic and their child was or if their child is frustrated with the level of work at school and such stretching keeps them engaged. It needn't be taken as superiority, just a different kind of special need.

cingolimama Sun 19-Jan-14 14:44:10

I fear these lists are probably meaningless and end up as a self-fulfilling prophecy to the exclusion of others who may not have had their talent 'noted' or may not have the same advantages.

Exactly OP.

Dromedary Sun 19-Jan-14 16:38:31

I think that if your child is on a list or in a special group of some kind at school, you should be told about it. Whether it's gifted and talented, slow learner, anger issues or whatever. I know that some schools don't share this information with parents, and that makes me very uneasy.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 19-Jan-14 16:56:43

Firstly children with Sen rarely get the help they need.

Second, parents of kids with SEN don't get invited to meetings open or otherwise

Third AGT is not a 'special need . It is an arbitrary level attached to kids based on performance not innate ability. And that performance is judged within the confines of a very restrictive national curriculum.

Any parent of a child with SEN who hasten through multiple assessments knows intelligence is much more complex than performance.

My real issue is the lack of discretion attached to an open meeting to which young children are in invited when the list should be dynamic not fixed.

Dromedary Sun 19-Jan-14 17:09:03

I must say in our case I didn't really see the point of having a meeting, as the school was basically doing nothing extra for those on the G and T list (they have to have a list by the way). If they just want to tell the parents that their child is on the list (and they should make it clear that it is a one year at a time thing) and that there are one or two useful websites for bright children then they can do that by letter. I agree that the children should not be at any meeting.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 19-Jan-14 17:18:09

I don't want to be difficult. I know the school are doing (a) what they are supposed to do by indentifying 'x' number of kids and (b) trying their best.

And I am a Governor so I don't want to look like I'm interfering with the running of the school.

But if it is a dynamic list, why would drag young children to a meeting and tell them?

Should I say something or am I being overdramatic?

Dromedary Sun 19-Jan-14 17:29:14

As a Governor aren't you supposed to be concerned about how the school is run?
If you feel this way (which I can understand) I would 1) not attend the meeting - this won't bother anyone overmuch I wouldn't think), 2) raise your concerns at a Governors' meeting, for the good of the school etc.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 19-Jan-14 17:37:29

Governors are supposed to be concerned with 'strategic decisions' rather than the day to day running of the school and I think holding a meeting falls into the latter.

I will just speak to the head I think but the letters have gone out now and DS knows he has a meeting because he's 'good at maths'.

I think I'm just out of step with the prevailing school zeitgeist.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 19-Jan-14 19:07:55

Oh, I couldn't agree more. My son got put on the G&T register because he was in a show that required him to have 2 afternoons off school. To get round the absence rules they listed him as G&T and had it classed as an enrichment activity. I expressed misgivings then (he's not talented; he's a little boy who was in a local am dram production), but since then I have had 3 teachers and the school receptionist mention his 'talent' in front of him - it's horrible. In some children this could lead to unpleasant bragging and friendship issues. In my son's case he has enough emotional intelligence not to do this but instead he is now getting very stressed about his miniscule part in the forthcoming school play (which they gave him despite nobody else in his year having a part - again just based on this silly label) as he's quite understandably worried that if he isn't totally amazing he'll be letting people down. I really, really wish that this divisive label had never been invented. There are children in his own year who are far more talented than him and they must feel pretty aggrieved that they haven't got speaking parts too.
I actually think that pretty much ALL children have some gifts and talents, whether these are recognised at school or not, and think the labelling is just inane.

NynaevesSister Sun 19-Jan-14 19:27:42

All children should be stretched. It doesn't matter if they are SEN or gifted (or both as can be the case) or in the middle. I don't think the government does the gifted and able thing anymore but your school may still use the label. Our school doesn't but does run classes with the local high school for children who have particular aptitudes and ability in, for instance, maths.

PiqueABoo Sun 19-Jan-14 19:32:17

Schools had to identify and report G&T children in the school census (some deliberately found none of 100% of their pupils), but that requirement stopped with Gove's arrival. However to keep Ofsted inspectors happy they do need to know who their high ability children are, demonstrate differentiation/challenge etc.

DD's school sent us a discreet letter about her being put on the G&T register for piano. Given that progress with a musical instrument depends on what happens at home I suppose that's not such a bad thing e.g. it might encourage an occasional indifferent or unmusical parent to take it more seriously. However despite that discrete approach, by-and-by everyone found out courtesy of a gossipy parent governor (if not them it would have been someone else).

The school have NOT put children on the G&T register because of academic ability for a few years now. DD and most of the 'highers' do have some additional maths instead of a couple of normal class Numeracy lessons, but that happens without resort to the G&T register. Suits me and had arranged a group meeting with children(!) I wouldn't have gone because I don't want tips for filling up more home-life with more school-stuff on top of the homework.

Dromedary Sun 19-Jan-14 19:49:11

The way the school sends some children on extension days and others not does create some disgruntlement among parents. My older DC was on the G and T list but wasn't allowed to go on any extension activities, even when I offered to pay the full cost, IMO because she didn't get on with the teacher in charge of G and T. Her friend was the teacher's favourite and was sent on several. Now it is younger DC's turn to be on the G and T list and she is rather more popular with said teacher and has been sent on several extension days, arousing a bit of jealousy in others.... Obviously, if children at the top of the class get sent on extension courses they will get further ahead, so in that sense it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and hard on those who are slightly lower down the class.

caffeinated Sun 19-Jan-14 20:07:58

Our school does none of this g&t crap and it's the best school in the county by quite a way. Do you know why I think that is? Because they cater to every child and their ability and get the best out of them.

lljkk Sun 19-Jan-14 20:20:54

To be honest, I think you're bigging it up into much more than it possibly can be, OP. It really is more of a non-event then you could imagine. Just decline the meeting & move on if not interested.

The extension activities on offer won't end up disadvantaging the uninvited. The whole thing will probably fizz out in a year or 2 & you'll only half remember ever being invited or informed.

sittingbythepoolwithenzo Sun 19-Jan-14 20:29:45

I think you can raise this at governor level. Do you have a standards committee or curriculum group? This is the sort of thing we discuss.

Mind you, we don't have G&T in our school, just a Higher Ability list which the teachers are aware of and track, the same as they do with other levels.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Mon 20-Jan-14 11:41:02

I'd go along and find out what it's about. At least you're then in a position to raise any issues you might have from a position of knowledge. If it's just here are a few websites that might help your DC then you may well be overreacting.

workatemylife Tue 21-Jan-14 10:57:29

We found out about G&T by accident. I was in school talking to the head teacher about something entirely different, and he mentioned it in a general chat as I was leaving. I'd have appreciated being told 'upfront', but that's mainly because I never like surprises being sprung on me in conversations at the school that leave me looking and feeling like a clueless parent. A letter home would have been fine, but if there were a meeting for parents, OP, I would probably trundle along just to see what the school has to say. Half the other parents are probably thinking the same.

As far as I can see G&T where we are means nothing obvious; it sounds a bit like the 'higher ability' list that some of you have mentioned. We've certainly never heard anything about 'additional' activities. DC is as DC is - the G&T thing doesn't seem to make a difference at school and it won't change life at home (especially since we knew nothing about it!).

PastSellByDate Tue 21-Jan-14 11:59:52

Hi inappropriately:

I think that it's very hard to decide what this means in fact because G&T can cover music, sport, academic ability, etc....

It's also not clear who've they've invited. It might be every shade of G&T but it may be a specific sub-set. So this could be a small meeting for those parents of pupils who are considered G&T at maths to seek their support & permission for their children to be taken out of school to have math extension lessons.

I'm from a US background and G&T (called Academically Talented in the day) was 'no big deal' but what it meant is that all the schools in my home town would bus these children to a Junior School (= Years 7 - 9 UK) one afternoon every fortnight - where they would do more challenging maths and some physics experiments (making trebuchets and rockets & there was some cool contest where they designed baskets to protect a raw egg dropped from the roof of the school) and a place where they could really enjoy their abilities. There were also summer camp opportunities for these children.

If the school is trying to organise something like that - then calling a meeting to explain what it covers rather than a long-winded letter - may seem more straightforward to the school and spare them multiple individual meetings, which do eat up a lot of time.

If you object to the children being present - then perhaps you should suggest to the school that a supervised creche is made available for them during the meeting.

HTH

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