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Primary school reticence about G&T?

(33 Posts)
CrouchingTigger Thu 21-May-09 12:39:59

First post here (namechanged from main Talk boards!), so please be gentle smile
I have just found out that my DD (age 8, Y3)is considered by her school to be G&T. I had to fill in a form for an assessment, and needed to say if she was G&T or SEN, so I asked the school and they said yes to G&T. They haven't said what for and were very tight-lipped. I get the impression they don't approve of the idea of G&T. The school is a very high achieving one (they get about 50% with KS1 SATS at Level 3 for example), so although we knew dd was bright, we didn't think she would 'qualify' as G&T, as so many others are bright too.
Anyway, my question is, do you think we should have been told she was on the G&T list, and be told what for? The school seems not to want to talk about G&T, and we don't want to be seen as over-concerned parents! The school doesn't do stuff it calls G&T, or extension work, although I guess that the top sets do this by default, so does it matter? I assume the school only have a list because they have to, not because they do anything with it?
Any views/experiences?

snorkle Thu 21-May-09 16:07:50

It comes down to whether or not you trust the school to give your child an appropriate eductation. If you do then let them get on with it - no benefit in a label unless it gives your child something extra that they need.

I don't see the point of G&T at a school where there's a reasonable number of bright kids - in that scenario it should be straightforward enough for the school to provide them with work at the right level and it sounds as though your dd's school is doing that (through setting).

cory Thu 21-May-09 16:55:13

what snorkle said

dd was never given any extension work for being g&t per se, but the work they did in top set was stretching her, so it wouldn't have made any difference if they had called it g&t extension work

what she needed was the work, not the label

CrouchingTigger Thu 21-May-09 17:06:36

Thanks for replies smile. I take your point about the work not the label.
I am assuming the top set stuff is stretching her, although I have no idea what they do in school tbh. The homework they get sent home with is always set for three levels, but is never tough. I have felt she has drifted this year - she is not a self-starter lol, but that there is plenty of time for challenge later on in her school life. I was surprised when they said she was G&T tbh, as she doesn't put much effort in!

Do you think they should tell me what they consider her to be G&T in though? I assume the fact they have only begrudgingly given us the info that she is on the list means they don't want to talk about it! It just feels a bit rude that they are holding info on her that we don't know about. We had a parents evening before Easter, and were just told she was getting on fine, and what her targets for maths and english were - it didn't feel very informative. Home-school comunication is not a strength of the school, obviously.

GrapefruitMoon Thu 21-May-09 17:12:16

I used to think our primary school didn't bother about G&T as I'd never heard it mentioned in relation to any child - however, I have recently spotted something in the school office about Science G&T and one of my dc's teachers recently told me that that dc is G&T at Maths. Tbh I am a bit hmm about it as one of my siblings is truly G&T and doubt if any of my dcs will be as good as her!

flamingtoaster Thu 21-May-09 17:29:39

Schools vary greatly - they all should have a G&T list. Some merely make the list and don't do anything, some differentiate work in class for G&T, some bring the G&T pupils together for separate work.

CrouchingTigger Thu 21-May-09 22:29:29

I get the impression most school seem to pay lip service to the G&T thing. I don't like the idea that they hold this info but don't share it though. My impression from parents evenings is that my dd is 'fine'. I would prefer to know that she is actually doing very well...

flamingtoaster Fri 22-May-09 09:23:16

CrouchingTigger - one of the reasons that parents aren't informed that their child is on the G&T Register is that there is no requirement for the school to tell the parents, another is that schools fear parents then demanding what the school are going to do about their G&T child. The situation is improving slowly - and hopefully will continue to do so. Many LEAs have a G&T Team who advise schools and, if necessary, assess children, others just have one designated person handling G&T.

DadAtLarge Fri 22-May-09 14:44:51

flamingtoaster, are you sure about that? From what I've read from our LA literature and DS school's own policy on G&T, they are supposed to not just inform us but involve us both in the identification of talent and the planning of how it's going to be catered for.

They don't necessarily do it but it may be worth checking your own LA to see what their position is.

newgirl Fri 22-May-09 14:50:07

my dd teacher in year one said she had been identified as g and t and they would make sure she was given challenging work. she is on the 'top' table for want of a better word and they set different work for each group.

the headteacher was asked about it in an intro to the school meeting once and he said 'all our children are gifted and it is our job to meet the needs of every one and ofsted say we are doing this - we did this before the g and t scheme was introduced, and will continue to do so if it ever changes'

so i think the school does it as they are asked about it on ofsted but they do not discuss it with individual parents

flamingtoaster Fri 22-May-09 20:43:22

DadAtLarge - LEAs policies vary and individual LEAs can specify that their schools must inform parents that their child is on the G&T Register, or that the child is considered gifted and differentiation is taking place without mentioning the Register, or any other system of informing the parents that the LEA thinks suitable. Unless something has changed very recently, however, there is no government stipulation that parents are told either that the Register exists in their school, or that their child is on it - each LEA can decide.

CrouchingTigger Fri 22-May-09 21:00:56

That is very interesting flamingtoaster. Thanks for your post. How come you know about it - do you work for a LEA?
It is (sort of) good to know that it isn't just my dd's school being reticent then! I would still like to know what they think she is good at though smile

DadAtlarge - your DS sounds amazing. Tricky for you though. Best of luck.

flamingtoaster Fri 22-May-09 21:51:21

CrouchingTigger - I don't work for a LEA but am in contact with them in the G&T area from time to time. In this geographical area there is great variation between individual schools. "Every Child Matters" still hasn't had the desired effect across the board - but it will get there in the end.

CrouchingTigger Fri 22-May-09 22:02:06

Thanks flamingtoaster. After your last post I went on the hunt for my LEA's policy on G&T. It is well hidden, but does say that schools should be in communication with parents about their child being G&T hmm. I can see why this may be tricky, especially when children are recognised as G&T one year and then not the next.
Like I said originally, the school does have a lot of bright children, so I feel fairly safe they they know what they are doing with them. I still want to know what she is G&T for though!
Thanks for your help. I am still a bit unsure about the whole G&T thing tbh. In the LEA document, it goes on about prioritising G&T. I have to say that I don't agree with that - all children should have the right education for them, not just those seen as SEN and G&T.

DadAtLarge Fri 22-May-09 22:19:12

Crouching Tiger, that they have a lot of bright kids is no reflection on their ability to cater for them. Ideological objections to what they see as "labelling" get in the way. Extra work is often seen as something to be avoided. Off the record my DS's teacher told me that when she recommended him for G&T the G&T coordinator said, "Oh, not another one, why don't you keep life simple?"

I wouldn't be surprised if some schools have G&T only on paper - the bare minimum to satisfy the Ofsted column on provision for brighter kids.

Sorry if I sound cynical.

CrouchingTigger Fri 22-May-09 22:30:48

Hi DadAtLarge. I can see what you are saying, and I do agree to some extent. My more relaxed attitude to it may be due to the fact that my dd isn't as obviously bright and understimulated as your ds. My dd is quite happy pottering along, will rise to the challenge when required, but doesn't demand stimulation. She is only 8, so if she doesn't want to charge ahead just now, that is fine with me. I am most happy that she enjoys school and is happy in herself at this stage.

Your ds sounds very different though, and it sounds like he is struggling with not having more challenging work. I can understand why you want more action for him smile, and why you are cynical. Have you contacted the national organisation for gifted children - I know there is one. maybe they could advocate for you?

flamingtoaster Sat 23-May-09 07:37:07

DadAtLarge - you are absolutely right, ideological thinking does get in the way and the sentiment expressed by the G&T Co-ordinator, is sadly, one that I have also heard in various forms. At one conference a G&T Co-ordinator openly stated that he simply listed the children and left it at that.

CrouchingTigger - every school should have a G&T policy - have you asked to see yours?

CrouchingTigger Sat 23-May-09 08:48:00

Morning flamingtoaster. I haven't spoken to the school about this as I have only just found out. School volunteered no more info than that dd is on the list. I wouldn't had known if I hadn't had to have asked.

I went back and looked at the school's prospectus, and it makes no mention of G&T. I've never seen anything about it in newsletters either.

I think maybe because it is a very middle-class school, they are worried about hordes of pushy parents if they are seen to be identifying G&T. Maybe it would create too much work deflecting parents?

I am still unsure if my dd does 'need' anything - is there evidence that letting them set their own pace at this age holds them back?
I can see that DadAtLarge is in a different position with his ds in this regard

snorkle Sat 23-May-09 10:14:41

"is there evidence that letting them set their own pace at this age holds them back?"

There's a good question. I've never seen any evidence either way. Logic tends to suggest that some children who are drawn to knowledge & independent learners will be fine setting their own pace, whereas another child might tend to hide their abilities to 'fit in' or just be the type of person to not do much unless pushed and those might not do so well, so it's quite possibly a personality thing.

You have to wonder what they are being 'held back' from though. If a child is in the top 10% and aiming for top grade SATS, GCSEs & A levels and isn't unhappy at school, what more do they need? Any career will be open to them unless they majorly underachieve. Until our exam system differentiates better at the top end it seems to me that there's not much to worry about.

I tend to think if they are 'out there gifted' and thus isolated from their peers they are more likely to (but still might not) run into difficulties than 'bog-standard gifted' who are in a small group of similar children within their class. For them a teacher is far more likely to provide an appropriate learning environment within the classroom and also to an extent they feed off each other. But any child anywhere can experience difficulties or underachieve.

flamingtoaster Mon 25-May-09 12:02:34

I am not aware of any research as to the effect of children setting their own pace at this age either and I agree with snorkle - the individual child's personality will affect whether they will underachieve or not - i.e. the child who constantly craves new knowledge vs. "the coaster" (though you can have a mixture of the two - the child who "coasts" in school and rockets ahead at home, but that's another story!). Your school's results would suggest they encourage children to achieve their potential so I would hope your daughter would be kept stimulated and interested. The two important things to keep an eye on are: is she happy and does she still have her love of learning, if either of these change then you need to look at what is happening in school more closely.

CrouchingTigger Tue 26-May-09 13:24:33

tbh, I am not sure that dd does have a love of learning - she enjoys topic-based stuff, but dislikes writing and doing maths, even though her standard of work is quite high.
She isn't very confident about her abilities - I think this is because there are a lot of outgoing clever children in the class and she feels she doesn't compare well to them, even though academically, she does. In some ways she does crave knowledge - she reads voraciously fact and fiction, but prefers to absorb info rather than produce it.
It is all a bit confusing lol!

flamingtoaster Wed 27-May-09 17:14:59

As long as she keeps reading voraciously she won't go far wrong! Many highly intelligent children are reluctant writers/producers of written work - it isn't interesting to repeat stuff you know when you could be reading new stuff and also their thought processes often move so much faster than they can get it down on paper. You can sometimes encourage greater "output" by getting them touch typing - that way they can produce work much faster (makes it less boring) and the speed of production interferes less with the thought processes.

CrouchingTigger Wed 27-May-09 23:14:25

flaming toaster - what you says makes a great deal of sense. DD would rather take it in than demonstrate what she knows. Happily, she devours the written word - would read all day if she could smile.
I like the idea of touch typing, however, her co-ordination is very poor. I suspect it will be a long time before she can manage that, and she will need greater maturity to be prepared to put the hours in to learn to do it.
Thanks for your helpful posts smile

lijaco Thu 28-May-09 20:00:11

I think school probably dont want to discuss it because parents can get carried away with the g &t label. Also if your school is high achieving then that is fab, but the g & t identification of a child is more to do with ability rather than achievement. There may be children that are not achieving good sats results or maybe not getting the results that they should be but have the ability. The point being the ability. There are children that are on the g & t because they have the ability and teachers are aware that they do. It isn't always the case that all of these children are the top percentage in achievement. A child is much more complex and unique than test results show. Children can be taught to take a test specifically. That isnt a gift or a talent. Your child obviously has the ability so there will be a plan put into place to stretch learning. There will be an individual learning plan put into place for your child. All children have this designed to target and action your childs learning. You could discuss this at parents evening and see if targets have been met.

DadAtLarge Thu 28-May-09 22:32:18

How patronising! We won't tell you that your child is on the G&T because you are a hysterical/stupid/myopic/unreasonable parent incapable of understanding what top 10% means.

Sorry, that's a pathetic excuse. Here are my reasons schools don't tell parents: a)it's alerting the parents to the G&T scheme and the smart ones will read up on it and hold the school to account on the LA's guidelines and the school's written policy.
b) if the parents don't know then the child can be put on the register for the census - demonstrating action and meeting the rules - and then be taken promptly off again after the census (because it's accepted that children can yoyo on and off the register - and it makes life easier).

"because they have the ability and teachers are aware that they do. It isn't always the case that all of these children are the top percentage in achievement"
In other words, if your child is very able but is on course for a less than perfect score on SATs we recognise the low hanging fruit principle and we'll use it to make ourselves look better. If your child has ability, is on target to achieve the top grade, but is capable of work several years ahead - we don't care. It's not achieving full potential we care about, it's only achieving up to the highest scores the league tables show.

CrouchingTigger, if she is on the G&T I suggest you ask for the school's policy, and ensure you get what she deserves. It's not a matter of pushing or giving her challenging work. It's about giving her what she needs, whether it's development of her talent... or confidence. Or something else. That the school choose to not disclose to you what she's on the G&T for is itself reason to not trust the school too much on this.

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