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To think that identifying children as gifted in a state primary school is pointless

(45 Posts)
ReallyTired Wed 31-Oct-12 21:08:09

The idea of identifying the top 5 to 10% of children as gifted is just too broad. Children's intelligence develops at different rates and frankly it is extremely rare to have a gifted child in a school. I feel that labelling a child as gifted can cause under achievement. It can undermine the confidence of a child who has always been told they are clever to be faced with something difficult.

I feel that the gifted and talented label should be reserved for children who are truely unique. Ie, a child who does grade 7 piano at seven years old, or is capable of A-level maths at nine years old or a child who plays sport at national level. These are children who needs cannot be met by normal differentiation in the classroom. They are very different to hot housed children as they think on a higher plane.

Surely it would be better to concentrate resources on the top 0.1% nationally and provide proper funding.

LynetteScavo Wed 31-Oct-12 21:12:31

If they want to identify children as "currently most able", fine. But describing the top 5-10% as G&T is just silly.

Especially when the G&T children often don't pass the 11+ and other, lesser mortals*, do.

*that's said tongue in cheek.

loolooskiptotheloo Wed 31-Oct-12 21:16:26

it's called more able and talented in wales now for this very reason.

Theas18 Wed 31-Oct-12 21:20:00

Yup totally agree. But where would mumsnet be without the g&t debates and un recognised clear geniuses ( like mine wink)

tethersend Wed 31-Oct-12 21:33:43


Mostly because it makes me want gin and tonic during staff meetings.

Floggingmolly Wed 31-Oct-12 21:37:22

It's able and talented here too (London)

snowmummy Wed 31-Oct-12 21:38:03

Agree with you to some degree, but do not agree that the top 5-10% in a school are necessarily hot housed, although some of them probably are. I can't really see what is wrong with identifying those who are doing well in a particular subject and then encouraging that ability/interest? Surely its not dissimilar to identifying the lesser able and addressing their needs? At the end of the day, it stops teachers 'teaching to the middle' which is what, I'm fairly certain, happened in my day.

MsVestibule Wed 31-Oct-12 21:42:29

Is this a nationwide/compulsory programme? I haven't heard of it at my DCs school, although that could be because they don't consider my children to be G&T surely not, they're actually geniuses.

joanofarchitrave Wed 31-Oct-12 21:43:21

YABU. As far as I know, children aren't informed of the label so it shouldn't do anything to undermine their confidence. It's useful to know what your child is well ahead of average for, just as it's useful to know what they are well behind average for.

cumfy Wed 31-Oct-12 21:46:15

YANBU, is this Gove ?

Floggingmolly Wed 31-Oct-12 21:47:43

The schools offer special extension classes, so both kids and parents are very well aware of the label, joanofarc. It doesn't undermine their confidence at all, why would it?

PatriciaHolm Wed 31-Oct-12 21:48:18

Predated Gove. I thought it was largely extinct now as a defined %, as that was clearly madness?

OwedToAutumn Wed 31-Oct-12 21:51:25

Gifted isn't the same as top 10% anyway.

Truly gifted children are not always the ones who do well in tests, and an experienced teacher will be able to identify at least some of them from normal classroom interaction. .(I am sure some get missed for various reasons, though.)

pointyfangs Wed 31-Oct-12 21:56:31

I'm not sure that 'gifted' should mean the top 0.1% any more than it should mean the top 10%, I just think that is is important that schools teach appropriately across the whole spectrum of ability. If reminding schools that they should not neglect the progress of their most able does this, then it's fine with me. The same reminders should apply to those children who need extra help.

What I don't want to see is a curriculum where no child is allowed to move on to the next stage until everyone else has covered the requirements of the current stage, with the most able being given meaningless 'extension' work which 'broadens' their knowledge. I see no merit at all in holding back an able child from learning the beginnings of, for example, algebra when they have the underlying skills and knowledge and the intellectual maturity to do so.

fridgepants Wed 31-Oct-12 21:57:22

Well, I was I guess a 'gifted child' at primary - my reading level was tested when I was three and found to be at age 11. There was no G+T then - my mum was just advised to enrol me in the Gifted Children's Association, which she decided was 'just giving them money' hmm. So I spent the rest of primary taking separate English lessons from the rest of the class because they didn't know what to do with me, or being rather bored. I did not fit in with the other kids, perhaps why they didn't move me up a year or two because they thought it was my social skills, when really people just didn't share the same interests as me or thought I was weird because I liked newspapers and learning about things. I would have been a lot happier if there was a programme in place that stretched me a bit, or brought me into contact with similar kids, because i found school pretty difficult as a result.

On the other hand, teachers automatically expected me to be good at everything, which is not great if you also have dyspraxia and struggle with rote learning.

alcibiades Wed 31-Oct-12 22:32:37

As far as I know, the whole G&T programme was introduced to address the issues of higher-achieving children having their needs mostly ignored in school. For a very long time, there was the concept that bright children succeed no matter their circumstances. That is definitely not true. Bright children, if they're not given challenging material in school, just coast. And, worse than that, they often don't find out what it is to have to actively learn until much later, sometimes in their teens, when it's often a little bit too late.

The concept was good, but the execution was been very flawed, partly because the only way to measure how good a school was at identifying those children was through not much more than a box-ticking exercise. Good teachers have always been able to identify the needs of individual children and respond to that. But there was a time when the focus was on equality rather than differentiation.

Children of all levels of academic ability do develop at their individual rates, but there needed to be a means of permitting and encouraging schools to move away from the idea that all they needed to do was ensure that children had reached their milestones for that academic year. So, there could be a situation where a child enters Y1 able to read fluently, both fiction and non-fiction, and understood basic mathematical concepts, just because that's the kind of child they were, and also because of their home circumstances.

For too long, those children were just put into a standard educational programme which didn't address their needs. The G&T programme went some way to redressing the balance. A child who enters primary school being effective at reading/comprehension and good at arithmetic may well be undistinguishable some three years later from a child who entered primary school without that knowledge - but the difference is that the child who started school not knowing how to read or do arithmetic would have spent three years learning, the other child could well have spent three years just being bored.

I really should learn how to write short responses.

webwiz Wed 31-Oct-12 22:46:29

Exactly alcibiades - when the G&T programme was introduced some schools said "well we don't have any children that would fit that criteria" so the 5%-10% was introduced to force schools to identify who their own high achievers were. If everyone wasn't so cynical about the help that the more able need then the current situation wouldn't have arisen.

PumpkInDublic Wed 31-Oct-12 23:52:31


alcibiades Said it all.

PumpkInDublic Wed 31-Oct-12 23:53:47

And why does "State Primary" come into it? My son's state primary have been able to identify his needs, meet them while doing the same for his peers and so far have given him a wonderfully happy school experience.

MrsCantSayAnything Thu 01-Nov-12 00:16:36

Sorry to hijack....but What would a teacher mean when she told me "Your DD is now in the top 10%...within her ability"


Her ability? Eh? Don't get that at all...DD is in year 4.

PerryCombover Thu 01-Nov-12 00:22:16

Won't matter unless they learn social skills and graft

webwiz Thu 01-Nov-12 00:25:00

Well they are more likely to learn graft if everything they do isn't easy - that was the whole point of the G&T programme in the first place.

PerryCombover Thu 01-Nov-12 00:37:37

Sometimes...being held up to be something special over very easy things..primary level work fer instance or even GCSES isn't always positive
Creates an expectation in the child and parent/peer group etc of being something special, with not a great deal of input effort or intellect required.
Children often get a lot of praise, parents boast and bask

The child might simply be the oldest in the class. Have had the most hot housing. Have had a developmental spurt. Have had the best money can buy.

When things start to get difficult...some children in these circs don't want to disappoint. Can't fail and so set up a situation where they overwork to try to achieve the gifted level they perhaps never were.
Alternately they can't face failing and therefore don't try.

Better to encourage gently and not label. Teach the importance of work and learning from mistakes. Socialise extensively.

freerangeeggs Thu 01-Nov-12 01:19:48

"When things start to get difficult...some children in these circs don't want to disappoint. Can't fail and so set up a situation where they overwork to try to achieve the gifted level they perhaps never were.
Alternately they can't face failing and therefore don't try."

Exactly. Research evidence suggests it's very, very bad to label children as 'gifted', and I remember reading that children who are labelled as such tend to underachieve in later life.

'Gifted' is a stupid term anyway. 'Gifted' by who? With what? In my experience all that 'gifted' children are gifted with is interested, involved, well educated parents.

I teach an amazing Y11 top set. They would all be considered 'gifted'. However, they weren't 'given' anything - they worked bloody hard to get to where they are. They deserve to be praised for the right reasons.

Iteotwawki Thu 01-Nov-12 03:03:23

Children have special educational needs at both ends of the spectrum. Those at the higher end also need to be identified and supported to achieve to the best of their ability.

My son was identified as gifted by the school (he is 6 months younger than the next youngest in his class, hasn't been "hothoused") and at their request he had an ed psych assessment. He now attends a day release class once a week through the gifted education centre and the difference in him is astonishing. He's gone from being a bored, sullen 6 year old who said very little about his school day to bring an engaged, active, interested learner.

He initially said he loved learning but hated school. I honestly think without the One Day School input he would have eventually lost his desire to learn too.

I want to support him to achieve the best he can, not just attain set targets. I also want him to learn how to work hard. In school he's the bright kid. At one day school he's just another kid, no more or less special than the others who attend. It's good for him.

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