Advanced search

Gifted and talented an advantage for the already advantaged...........................

(30 Posts)
lijaco Fri 19-Dec-08 19:44:36

If you are a disadvantaged student you are statistically unlikely to be selected and named as gifted and talented. Deborah Eyre looks at how to open opportunities for disadvantaged G&T students

In the current education arena, the ‘skills agenda’ focuses on developing the intellectual capital of individual students and the ‘personalisation agenda’ provides a potential framework to enable this to occur. However, a third major education agenda is the need to reduce inequity in the system.

Children’s educational prospects reflect the disadvantages of their families: those whose parents are poor, have limited qualifications, are unemployed or have low-status jobs, who live in inadequate housing and in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, are less likely to gain good qualifications themselves at school. Even the most able children from poor backgrounds are unlikely to achieve highly. Sadly in the UK, headline figures show us moving backwards in this respect, with those born in the 1970s less socially mobile than those born in 1958.

Many colleagues are proud of the contribution that gifted education has made to raising aspirations and motivation amongst the most able from traditionally disadvantaged groups in the UK. They point to a culture change resulting from Excellence in Cities and the City Challenge programme, which stressed the possibility of high performance for all students in every school, and they mention with pride the ‘rising tide raises all ships’ effect. But many outside the field criticise G&T programmes, suggesting that they are by their very nature inequitable, and that in practice they serve as a mechanism for further advantaging the already advantaged.

There is extensive research worldwide to show that choosing a G&T cohort is by its mere nature an inequitable process with certain ethnic and social groups under-represented. In the US, children from affluent families were found to be five times more likely to enter gifted programmes than their poorer peers.
Sesame Street effect
If, as a disadvantaged student, you are selected and named as G&T then it can be life changing; but you are statistically unlikely to be selected. It is for this reason that many in the G&T field are so attracted by the ‘rising tide raises all ships’ approach. Here, advanced opportunities are made available to everyone in an inclusive way and everyone gains, with the most able gaining the most. While this is a comforting idea, the reality is less compelling. The actual effect of this ‘needs blind’ approach is to widen the gap. This is sometimes referred to as the Sesame Street effect. Sesame Street was devised to help educationally disadvantaged children to learn and it led to marked improvements in their performance; but middle-class children with support from their homes and nursery schools learned even more and so raced ahead faster and further.

ManIFeelLikeAWoman Fri 19-Dec-08 23:32:33

Please - enough!

You're starting to remind me of the Christians on the bus.

Please stop preaching.

What is the basis of your agenda? Do you think your own children, or children you know, have been hard done by? Why do you care this much?

christywhisty Sat 20-Dec-08 10:32:08

Agree ManIfeellikeawoman.

scrooged Sat 20-Dec-08 10:36:29

You appear to have issues with Gifted and talented lijaco. Nothing in this country is perfect. Let alone this.

The government set this up just after someone took them to court because the school was unable to stretch his bright daughter and he wanted help with private school fees. Their defence was that the state system could stretch any child, regardles of their ability and the father lost the case. They set up the G&T initiative shortly after this case. Convenient hey!

lijaco Sat 20-Dec-08 11:14:51

scrooged a school contains lots of children who all need to be stretched not just G & T. You are right it isn't perfect.

wrapstar Sat 20-Dec-08 11:21:54

Well, until you somehow manage to make everyone equal in income, force/genetically engineer all parents to be equally intelligent, encouraging to their children, involved in their education/showing a good example by reading and working hard etc then these inequalities will persist.
Also it is likely that that intelligence is not equally spread over the economic spectrum. As intelligence is at least partly inherited, then it is likely that the children of say, doctors and lawyers and teachers will be a bit brighter ON AVERAGE than those of unskilled parents.
I think most schools do try very hard to ensure that bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds do get access to G&T programmes.
Are you suggesting that if a programme benefits the disadvantage, and also the better off, then it must be a bad programme?

scrooged Sat 20-Dec-08 11:23:30

The government did this to stop the middle classes moving their children into the private sector. You'd move your child out if the school wasn't catering for them wouldn't you?

It is well known that schools in more affluent areas have more bright children in them. Parental involvement is the key. Alot of families on estates don't have the education themselves to sit and teach their child about music etc. They often (not all) don't have the funds to buy books or take their child on a theatre trip. You'll notice that the naughty kid in schools placed in deprived areas is the bright one. It is an unfair system but we live in an unfair world. I was a very bright child, there was no money/support at home though so a private school was completly out of the question. ds is at a private school because I can do this for him.

You are right but it sounds to me as though you are seriously pissed off with this. I do understand but we are powerless. There are no charities that offer bright but not well off children trips to museums or books. I think the Roald Dahl foundation can give money for books but the hoops which people have to jump through are a nightmare. Parents don't know about types of suport either. It's a vicious cycle I'm afraid.

wrapstar Sat 20-Dec-08 11:26:21

Bookstart gives books! Libraries offer free books and activities available to poor and rich families allike. The SureStart programme provides trips and enriching activities (art clubs/trips etc) to poorer families - the problem is finding enough families who will take part. That's the reason it isn't working!

LIZS Sat 20-Dec-08 11:27:53

but there is still a g and t hierarchy within private shcools - not just confined to State

scrooged Sat 20-Dec-08 11:31:09

Bookstart books are not alot and a child stos getting them at 5. They are also given out by the health visitor so if a family have little contact with them, they don't get them. Libraries do have books, my parents never took me to a library though and I'm sure other children experience this even now. Alot of poor families won't access these facilities, it is well documented that families in poverty have less access to health screening so I doubt they would take a child to the theatre or to an art club. Lack of motivation is a terrible thing. Poverty doesn't just affect children, it creates self esteem/motivation problems in the parents too.

scrooged Sat 20-Dec-08 11:34:49

There's no G&T heirarchy as such in ds's school, however, they all have to sit an entrance exam. They are all bright boys though and are given work apropriate to their level. This is what I'm paying for.

Even in state secondaries children are streamed. I did notice that the middle class children (and me) were in the top set, the working class children were in the middle and the very poor children were at the bottom. There was nothing for a bright child though so I would have to sit and do nothing for most of the lesson whilst everyone caught up. I used to write stories.

LIZS Sat 20-Dec-08 11:37:37

so you don't have those being groomed for scholarships, given additional study advice and experiences to extend their knowledge ?

wrapstar Sat 20-Dec-08 11:37:37

Yes, which is precisely why my post of 11.21 said:
"Until you somehow manage to make everyone equal in income, force/genetically engineer all parents to be equally intelligent, encouraging to their children, involved in their education/showing a good example by reading and working hard etc then these inequalities will persist."
To me, it seems just as likely that lack of motivation etc will CAUSE poverty as that poverty will cause lack of motivation.
I have no idea really what you are arguing for or against.

wrapstar Sat 20-Dec-08 11:39:53

Yes, I'd call a scholarship a pretty big G&T scheme. Not to mention the Oxbridge prep classes etc. Children in private education are quite clear that there are a group of brighter kids who get special lessons. That's what their parents are paying for.

scrooged Sat 20-Dec-08 11:40:47

I'm on the fence as I have experienced this from both sides. It'll never be equal, that's not how life is.

ds's old school groomed the children for scholarships. I pulled him out of there though, I could see the parents overwork their children. It was sad but when you have money....

scrooged Sat 20-Dec-08 11:42:13

ds didn't get a scholarship by the way, as a child I didn't know they existed. I wish I had though. sad

Piffle Sat 20-Dec-08 12:19:02

Surely the disadvantaged are statistically more likely to have less education?
Which in turn statistically means the better off have better education/advantages/earnings and social mobility?
My ds1 is gifted and has been since birth. Profoundly so apparently. I was unemployed single mother, he started school in a failing primary with high numbers of socially disadvantaged pupils.
However since DP and I met (not his father) and had two more children, I understand how money gives you opportunities for your kids.
We had choices which money allows you.
Moving to grammar school area, school trips etc
But what I know is where my parents came from and both my parents were the first kids in each family to attend university.
Dps family were Irish bog farming folks. And miners.
Now Dp and one if his two brothers went to private boarding school and uni. My two brothers and I all went to uni.

Social mobility is generational too.

roisin Sat 20-Dec-08 14:32:39

I work in a secondary in a deprived area, and we have many initiatives which do target children from less privileged backgrounds.

Some of our 'best performing' students are certainly those whose parent(s) had a university education, but given genetics that is not surprising!

But when it comes to programmes such as Aim Higher (improving access to HE) those students are not eligible. I can't remember the rank of categories which makes them eligible, but every year a lot of our yr10 students do taster days or weeks in universities, to try and inspire them for the future.

roisin Sat 20-Dec-08 14:38:08

At our school too the % of resources that is taken up by any G&T initiatives is minuscule compared with the drain on SMT time, resources, special initiatives etc which is taken up by the tiny number of little toerags in each year, whose main aim day-to-day is to try and find new ways to run circles round school staff.

Students with SEN are well-catered for in our school and reasonably resourced; G&T students get an occasional workshop or something - usually externally funded - but mostly it's just up to the individual classroom teacher to choose to differentiate and challenge them ... or not; the 'average' student mostly just muddles along - might come in for a bit of extra support along the way if they are C/D borderline; but the persistently disruptive, problematic students cost ££££.

sitdownpleasegeorge Mon 22-Dec-08 13:56:37


This country has tried a one size fits all approach to education and it isn't great.

G&T schemes are a step towards trying to help potential high flyers reach their true potential because we all benefit as a nation if we can produce world class scientists/economists/musicians/writers/linguists/whatever.

If only they had the balls to re-introduce a tiered secondary education system throughout the UK. Then all children would have a chance at an appropriately tailored education to meet their needs.

lijaco Mon 22-Dec-08 14:42:38

it is funny that these world class scientists, economists, muscicians, writers, linguists etc etc were not always recognised at school. Some excell after school and achieve their goals then. We would all benefit if there wasn't a class distinction within the education sytstem.

pagwatch Mon 22-Dec-08 14:51:20


why don't you start campaigning positively and contact your MP and do positive stuff instead of just endlessly and tediously lecturing on here?
Just wondering...

Katiestar Tue 30-Dec-08 19:08:17

Bjaco ,
I just don't think what you are saying is true at all.I live in a small village which is predominantly upper middle class but with a sprinkling of tradespeople,clerical staff etc and one or 2 unemployed families in council houses .I can catagorically state that in this sample childrens ability do not correlate at all with their parents social class .I went to a grammar school and the most intelligent boy in the school ('gifted' in the real sense of the word )
was the caretakers son.

lijaco Tue 30-Dec-08 21:01:08

katiestar that is a small village with one or two unemployed families. I came from a disadvantaged background and I was in all the top classes myself. I am talking now..

sitdownpleasegeorge Fri 02-Jan-09 13:13:41

lijaco - I did not say they were not always recognised at school.

Class distinction ?

IMHO, you are misguided if you believe class plays anything other than a minor supporting role in gaining entry to one's preferred choice of school these days. It's money that parents use to tackle the education problem, be it in tutoring for the eleven plus, paying private school fees or moving to an area with a "better" school by being able to pay the premium attached to house prices in the corresponding catchment area.

Yes, at the moment the better off (wealth does not, however, denote class) can buy private education or carry out a timely re-location to an expensive housing area to take advantage of a school that they perceive to be better than the average or better suited to their child's needs. As I said the one size fits all approach to education in this country doesn't really work well does it ?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now