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Gifted and a normal state school

(27 Posts)
Machadaynu Wed 22-Aug-12 15:02:47

I have no idea what level the kid is at, and I don't want this to be a 'my kid can...' thread. We thought she was just a kid until a relative who has worked in schools and nurseries for 40-odd years and has her own children and grandchildren told us that she has never known a child as advanced.

Now we're worried that a normal state primary won't be able to challenge her effectively. In a way it's fortunate that she will be amongst the youngest in her year, but based on what she knows now I think she'd be ahead of most in a reception class, and she won't start for another year.

We need to start looking at schools when they go back to apply by January, so I hoped some of you could make me feel happier by telling me how your local state primary is doing an excellent job educating your gifted child.

Niceweather Sun 02-Sep-12 17:27:30

I don't think you are necessarily comparing like with like. A child like Mrs Shears' dd who is on the 99.9th percentile (1 in 1,157) is going to be different from another child on the 98th percentile (1 in 52) who might be much more easy to accommodate.

From Hoagies Gifted site:

Levels of Giftedness

The next question is harder to answer... what does this level of giftedness imply?

There is the numerical answer: a child of IQ 160 is as different from a moderately gifted child of 130, as that child is from an average child of 100. But IQ scores are no longer derived from a ratio, with the numerical difference between scores indicating the variation. Today's IQ tests score on a curve, so that the difference between 100 and 115 is far less than the difference between 130 and 145, and the difference between 130 and 145 is far less than the difference between 145 and 160, though the ranges appear similar numerically.

And there are lots of different levels of development to consider in each child. There is intellectual development, the development measured by an IQ test. There is also physical development - gross and fine motor skills, social and emotional development, and spiritual development. And all of these development levels characterize the gifted child.

AChickenCalledKorma Sun 02-Sep-12 13:22:42

Iam - you might say that, I couldn't possibly comment grin

Great post getselected.

Iamnotminterested Sun 02-Sep-12 10:07:52

Korma Oh, I see. But aren't all MN children working at level 5? wink

getselected Sun 02-Sep-12 09:36:48

I have worked in schools and have advised schools about how to support and develop their curriculum for gifted and talented children. When you have a very able young child, the best thing you can do for them is offer breadth of learning. Too much pushing in terms of academia is limiting. A child who is able and enjoys learning usually enjoys learning a very wide range of subjects, skills, crafts etc. Many state schools support their more able children very well and as learning doesn't have to end in the classroom, after school sports, music lessons and clubs all serve to keep a child stimulated and focussed. Children also develop at very different rates, so a child who has learnt to read and do maths at a very early age, may be no more gifted than a child who has been socialising, learning to share toys and play sport, it is often what they have been exposed to at an early age which determines what skills they have. I have 2 children who have been labelled as "Gifted and Talented" by their schools. It doesn't matter, as it is just a label. My son learns very well, the subjects that he finds interesting and he doesn't need me to worry about whether he is being stretched, at he age of 13, he studies because he has his own inquiring mind. My daughter - she swims, rides, plays hockey, runs etc and enjoys all those sports and being part of her schools teams as much as she enjoys achieving high grades. In my opinion choose a good school, which offers a range of activities and clubs and achieves good results and then let the child find their own interests and skills. We try and label them too early.

Goldidi Sun 02-Sep-12 08:58:54

My dd1 is 'gifted'. We've had mixed experiences of provision for G and T at the 3 different primary schools and one secondary school she's been to.

Primary school 1 she attended for nursery up to year 1. The pre-school was run by nursery nurses but overseen by the reception teacher. When the nursery nurses asked the reception teacher what to do to bring dd1 on and help her with starting to read and write (she could read and write the names of all family members before she started pre-school) they were told that she was not to be taught any of it as she didn't need it until she started school confused. So we ignored her and allowed dd1 to practice her reading and writing at home while sending her to pre-school to play with her friends. Then in reception she was told to sit on her hands when on the carpet (so she couldn't put her hand up to answer every question) so other children could have a chance shock. We complained about that and it seemed a bit better but we still weren't happy with how much she was being stretched, so by the end of year 1 we moved her (coincided with a move to another town anyway for a new job)

Primary school 2 was a very small school with only 60 children in the whole school. She absolutely thrived there, she was allowed to move at her own pace and if that meant she was in literacy and numeracy groups with children 2 years older than her that was fine. We adored that school, even though OFSTED only rated it as satisfactory.

We then moved house again and had to change to a much bigger school with 3 classes per year. We were a bit worried about the lack of personal connection in a bigger school but we needn't have been. Having more children meant they had more clever children too and she was being challenged by some of the other 'gifted' children. She loved it, we loved it, and she was working at level 6 in Maths, English and Science by the end of year 5 although her reports say level 5 for years 4,5 and 6 because they didn't officially test for level 6. They even had a 'Gifted club' after school one day a week and online too where she was encouraged to broaden her knowledge with subjects such as Latin, Archaeology, Astronomy, etc.

She's now at secondary and is loving an subjects where they are in sets, but hates the subjects they are in mixed ability groups for. She really wants to be challenged and is being challenged when the teacher is aiming for challenging a top set, but not when the teacher is having to pitch to the middle of a mixed ability class.

She also does a lot of extra-curricular things. She plays an instrument in an orchestra both in and out of school, she's in a choir, goes to guides, attends swimming club.

Basically a state school can stretch a gifted child, or they can be very poor with it. The trick is figuring out which ones can provide best for your child. Or, as for most people, you have to accept whichever school you are allocated and hope for the best, while doing what you can at home as well.

AChickenCalledKorma Sun 02-Sep-12 08:25:24

Iamnot I mean that she's working at a good level 5 according to her end of Yr 5 report and will be moving towards level 6 during Yr 6. Expected level for age 14 is level 5 or 6 according to

I'm assuming as the OP's daughter is not yet of school age she may not yet be familiar with NC levels. (And yes, I realise that level 5/6 isn't off-the-scale-genius material, but it's advanced enough to be able to give some anecdotal evidence about whether state primaries can be capable of coping.)

Iamnotminterested Sat 01-Sep-12 21:54:05

AChickenCalledKorma What exactly do you mean when you say that your DD is working at the level for a 14 year-old?

AChickenCalledKorma Sat 01-Sep-12 19:36:55

I agree with everything workshy said and our experience of an ordinary state primary has been excellent.

Definitely ask schools about their policy on ability-grouping. Ours has ability-based sets for maths and english from Year 1 onwards. And there are 3 or 4 ability groups within each set. So basically they are offering up to eight levels of differentiation for children that are at different stages. DD1 is going into Year 6, working at the expected level for a 14 year old, and we have not yet had any concerns about her "failing to be stretched" at school.

I did also love an illustration I read on here about viewing education like a pyramid. While they are young, make the base of the pyramid as wide as possible - by giving them opportunities to learn all sorts of stuff outside the requirements of the curriculum. I.e. learn an instrument, delve into history, buy a telescope and learn about the stars - go wide rather than high. That way, a very intelligent child can be engaged and interested without necessarily zooming way ahead of their peers - and the foundation upon which to build later learning is enormous.

mrsshears Fri 24-Aug-12 19:40:35

If you looked at our school on paper you would think it was the perfect school for a Gifted child, especially the g and t policy the head has drawn up however it's all just back covering, my point being the schools might say they provide x y and z but actually delivering is another matter.

seeker Fri 24-Aug-12 19:31:02

Remember that the never happy til he went to Oxford boy was at a state primary school at least 15 years ago- things have changed!

amidaiwish Fri 24-Aug-12 19:29:19

When you visit ask the school what their provision, if any, for gifted children is.
Even though i think the funding has gone, DDs school still has a separate class every week for 6-8 children (90 intake) where they do "thinking skills" with a specialist teacher. In Yr 6, those capable do extension maths, others (often the same kids) do latin. etc....
I found that the bigger schools did more, those with 3 or 4 forms per year (90-120 intake) rather than single class intakes.

amidaiwish Fri 24-Aug-12 19:25:22

DD1 is in a state school.
they didn't make her sit through phonics etc (she could already read very well), they gave her little workbooks to do.
they differentiate work effectively.
i don't think a private school would have done any more.
you have to think what you want for your child. i don't believe being a genius is that helpful in life! i think finding school and academic work easy is a gift - so focus on the other areas, learn a second language, a musical instrument, chess. Focus on social skills, sport, art etc.

flussymummy Fri 24-Aug-12 19:19:31

I'm intrigued by your "hothoused, home educated children" comment 7to25. While I'm sure that it wasn't directed at me, I'd just like to point out for the record that hothousing is about as far removed from anything we do with our DDs as possible. My primary concern for both of our children is for their happiness, something which our trial at our local state school was unable to provide. Your post above said "he was never really happy till he went to Oxford". That's the bit that bothers me. It doesn't mean that state school isn't right for other bright children though.

7to25 Fri 24-Aug-12 17:49:08

One of my children is very bright.
he went to an ordinary state school albeit in a middle class area, for primary.
All was ticking along until his 5th year at school when his behaviour deteriorated and I spent half my life being hauled up to the school. I decided to get him a tutor who did a great job of "stretching" him, his relationship with his class teacher had reached rock bottom by this time.
he went to an academic independent school for secondary level and had blips and run-ins with the teachers there but became happier as he progressed up the school and he directed his own study.
he was never really happy till he went to Oxford. he is now doing a PhD.
What I want to say is that it is highly unlikely that any school will totally fit a child like that.
However, the best thing about my son is his ordinariness, his ability to communicate and his "normality"
He can be happy with other people and with himself. The less than perfect schooling knocked the edges off him and gave him a bit of an advantage over hothoused, home schooled children.

flussymummy Fri 24-Aug-12 17:32:34

Oops- sorry! Posted twice- clearly the child who's able rather than me! I agree with exoticfruits though- every school is different and every child is different. If our DD had been happy, I wouldn't have been half as concerned.

flussymummy Fri 24-Aug-12 17:28:56

Interesting thread. One of the many reasons that we've decided to Home Ed is that our DD regressed massively in the term she spent at nursery, mostly because she was trying so hard to fit in and "learn" with the others when she'd known the things they were teaching her for two years...

exoticfruits Fri 24-Aug-12 17:07:54

I would just visit the schools and asked the question. Lots of them deal very well - lots don't.

flussymummy Fri 24-Aug-12 16:56:57

Interesting thread. One of the many reasons that we've decided to Home Ed is that our DD regressed massively in the term she spent at nursery, mostly because she was trying so hard to fit in and "learn" with the others when she'd known the things they were teaching her for two years...

mrsshears Fri 24-Aug-12 15:02:56

I have a dd who is 6 and on the 99.9th percentile for IQ, if i had my time again i would not send her to her catchment 'outstanding' primary school.
She is underchallenged and underestimated (very introvert and previous selective mutism issues) and nowhere near as far ahead as she was when she started at the nursery unit attached to the school.
Imo, and i'm sure others may not agree, a state school can't cater for a highly gifted child and i know that if i want my daughter to stop coasting i need to move her or look at home education which is not an option at present.
The reason she stays at her current school is because she is not unhappy as such,has lots of friends, has made huge progress socially and does not want to move, secondary school will certainly be more well researched on our part.

onesandwichshort Fri 24-Aug-12 14:22:56

I think that when you start going round schools, you can get a good sense of whether or not they'll be able to do well by your DD or not. And the more you go to see, the more you'll have a feeling for what you do and don't like.

We knew by the time we were visiting that DD would enter Reception reading fairly fluently, and so it was one of the questions we asked - how do you differentiate for a child who can already read? We also asked about playtime (DD hated toddler groups and so on) and the answers to those two questions gave us a really good sense of whether or not it was the right school for her. And it wasn't necessarily the one with the best OFSTED either; as other people on here have found, a 'high-achieving' school can sometimes be more inflexible.

We were told both on here and elsewhere - and so far it seems to be true - that boredom doesn't really become an issue until Yr2 anyway, as there is so much learning through play until that point.

Having said all that, our experience of the local state school have not been entirely positive. I don't think DD has learnt a great deal of academic knowledge in the reception year (although a lot about how to be at school and so on as has been said above) and it has taken a lot of nudging on our part to get appropriate work for her. Even so, I think she learns more at home than at school, and if things carry on as they have done we will probably ask to flexi-school her. We have been assured that Yr1 will be better, so we'll see.

Machadaynu Fri 24-Aug-12 11:48:46

Thanks for your replies.

I absolutely agree that the social aspect will be great for her, but I also want her to have work that she finds as interesting/challenging as the rest of her class.

She's not as advanced in some areas of some of the other kids I've read about on here, perhaps because she never focuses on one thing for very long: so far she has been interested in - amongst other things - space, maps/geography, cars, letters/words, numbers/maths, Bob the Builder and building in general, science (especially chemistry) and, currently, climbing and 'doing exercises' because she's decided she is a really fast runner and wants to "do the Olympics" Each phase becomes almost an obsession to the exclusion of everything else whilst it lasts. It feels like when she thinks she has learned enough for now, she move on. Hopefully that means she won't be absolutely miles ahead of anyone in any particular area come next September, although she dug out her reading flash cards my mum bought her the other day and wanted to do them, and it turns out she can read much better than she has been letting on so who knows what will happen - 12 months is a long time. She may level off even.

I guess I see her enthusiasm to learn things and remember having it myself when I entered the school system - and I don't want her to lose it as I did through boredom.

workshy Wed 22-Aug-12 23:41:09

my dd is 'gifted'

she goes to a state primary and they have done an excellent job of stretching her in all directions and she is engaged and enjoys learning new things and applying her knowledge

she has also learned that...
she isn't always right
she doesn't have to be the best at everything
other people have valuable strengths

and she has learnt how to build strong friendships

our primary 'sets' from Yr1 in literacy and numeracy which has been a very positive thing for my DCs

I have always tried to keep her feet on the ground -the school comments on the fact that she is increddibly able but very humble and modest
there are other children who are less 'gifted' hate that word who have been put on a pedestal by their parents (I'm not saying you do btw), who struggle more socially

primary is much more than academic learning, so go for the school that has the best 'feel' as you walk round -that will be the right one for your family smile

lisad123 Wed 22-Aug-12 23:34:40

Dd1 is G&T and always been in local state school and done well. It is only this year we have seen a real problem with her being bored and unchallenged and decided to move her, she's just going into year 5.
At this age it really isn't about being G&T but about being a child, if she's bright she will always be bright, but being a kid is time limited. Learning to be socialable and well adjusted will get her further in life than any other thing she can learn, and they learn that at this age.
Encourage what she good at and nurture her gifts but remember she's a kids first.

InkyBinky Wed 22-Aug-12 23:28:42

My DC's all started kindergarten (we lived overseas) already knowing how to read, then spent the next year learning their letters confused I don't think it does them any harm though. There is so much more to school than just raw learning and your DD might really relish being one of the brighter kids. Social skills, sport, music, art, organisational skills; there are lots and lots of things DC's need to develop at school.

If they enjoy reading there are no limits to what they can teach themselves. There are some fantastic computer programs and apps you could use. You could also consider teaching her chess? Personally, I think she is too young to be worried about her being gifted and not academically stretched.

Good luck with everything smile

Machadaynu Wed 22-Aug-12 21:08:24

*InkyBinky - thanks. It seems close because it's September soon, and we have to apply by January, so we have to visit schools in the next term! It's a long time until she will start - over 12 months - but in a way that makes me worry more because by then she will know even more!

I'm definitely going to try and encourage her to play an instrument if she shows any interest, and post Olympics she's all about sport too (which is great because she now asks for more vegetables to make her stronger)

I worry about the whole 'keeping motivated when the class is learning something you've known since you were 2' aspect though sad

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