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Specialist 'Gifted' schools...do they exist?

(92 Posts)
sleepingcat Tue 21-Jul-09 11:02:28

Having read a few US forums it would seem that the Americans have schools specifically for their gifted kids. Entry tends to be by either assessment or IQ testing.

Do such schools exist in the UK? I assume that Grammar schools are the closest thing we can get to a 'gifted' school, but what about at primary level?

Some schools in the UK seem to be members of the NAGC but that just seems to involve paying a yearly membership and using the NAGC logo on their websites!

Are there any schools (private or state) in the UK which specialise in teaching gifted kids at primary level?

DadAtLarge Tue 21-Jul-09 23:42:50

Some private primary schools are selective.

Not state schools. Or rather, not state schools.

Selection, merit, recognition and aspiration are all four letter words in the state system. The general goal is to even everyone out. And if your DC has the audacity to be better more academic than others, then DC needs to be brought into line.

seeker Tue 21-Jul-09 23:45:39

Grammar schools aren't schools for gifted children either. They are schools for clever children who are good at jumping through a particularly curiously shaped academic hoops.

KembleTwins Tue 21-Jul-09 23:53:03

Why would you want your child to go to a selective school at primary level? Everyone thinks their kids are gifted - just ask any reception class teacher - bet you they had loads of concerned mums taking them aside to explain how exceptional their child was at the beginning of the year.

DadAtLarge Tue 21-Jul-09 23:53:57

The curious thing is that people seem to be more against the "schools for clever children" than the methods used to distinguish the clever ones.

DadAtLarge Tue 21-Jul-09 23:54:40

"Everyone thinks their kids are gifted "
So the obvious conclusion is that none are?

KembleTwins Tue 21-Jul-09 23:55:08

So how would you distinguish the "clever" ones.

DadAtLarge Wed 22-Jul-09 00:01:52

" So how would you distinguish the "clever" ones."
Do you support special schools for the more academically able at 11?

Or do you advocate bunging them in with the semi-literate, Level2c masses from failing primaries?

KembleTwins Wed 22-Jul-09 00:08:30

I think if you're going to get into a tizz about G&T in terms of how schools define them, then you really have to know what you're talking about. G&T in schools isn't just about being "clever" (although many parents like the label to be applied to their little darlings so they can be smug and brag about how "clever" they are) a G&T kid can be part of the "semi-literate Level2c masses" but exceptionally gifted at football, or drama, or playing the trombone. Does that mean we have to have lots and lots of specialist schools for lots and lots of different gifts and talents? Do we have to put our children into little boxes at the age of 4 (or 11) and keep them away from children who are neither gifted nor talented?
In an ideal world (which we don't live in, know) a comprehensive education system would work.
Still, I don't have to worry about that, as both my kids are clever.

seeker Wed 22-Jul-09 06:54:59

"Or do you advocate bunging them in with the semi-literate, Level2c masses from failing primaries?"

That is a offensive statement on so many levels I don't know where to start!

piscesmoon Wed 22-Jul-09 07:16:02

'Grammar schools aren't schools for gifted children either. They are schools for clever children who are good at jumping through a particularly curiously shaped academic hoops. '

Fantastic definition and true! They are also for the DCs of pushy parents who can afford a tutor for 3 or 4 years.

Very talented and clever DCs go to failing primaries-unfortunately they are stuck there through parental circumstances.

There is far more to school, at a young age, than the academic side. Learning to mix socially with all sorts is high up my agenda.

Many a gifted DC doesn't show any sign of it at 6 yrs old.

There are a lot more parents who think they have gifted DCs than there are gifted DCs!

DadAtLarge Wed 22-Jul-09 09:21:25

"I think if you're going to get into a tizz about G&T in terms of how schools define them, then you really have to know what you're talking about."

Very few people on here know as much as I do about the G&T. Most teachers out there don't know half of what I do about G&T. I could teach most G&T coordinators a thing or two about G&T.

The sad part is that most teachers may have never read a single document or paper on catering for children of exceptional intelligence.

While you may poke fun at specialist schools for every talent around, the DCSF is very clear as to what's expected of schools in the identification and catering for gifted children (The OP is talking about academically gifted, not G&T "talented")

"Do we have to put our children into little boxes at the age of 4 (or 11) and keep them away from children who are neither gifted nor talented?"
So however high their academic apptitude you believe they should be taught in the same class as the really slow? One 11 year old capable at working at the average level of a 13 year old should be in the same class of 11s where all/most of the other children are capable of working only at the average level of an 8 year old?

Litchick Wed 22-Jul-09 09:29:36

DAL - you really don't like children do you? How sad.

Anyhow - to the OP. No there are no special schools for the gifted in the UK. Some of the most selective independent schools will be able to make some kind of provision but many gifted children are currently being home educated.

A friend has been offered a place for her DS at a specialist school in the US. It is strictly invitation only and children from all over the world go there. I went with her to check it out and it hs to be seen to be believed.
That said, my friend is still undecided because she just wants her LO to be happy and 'normal'. Tis is a very difficult balancing act no?

piscesmoon Wed 22-Jul-09 09:44:12

Not all academically gifted DCs show it at an early age. My brother was very slow in the infants 'slow but sure' to quote the teacher. He failed the 11+ but passed at 12; at 13 he was in the fast stream with the high flyers and took to Latin and Greek like a duck to water. Lots of DCs are like this-they don't all conveniently go into little boxes and stay there! Many of the exceptionally bright 2 yr olds will have been overtaken by the age of 10yrs and may do nothing remarkable in public exams.

It is a sad DC whose parents think school is just about academic achievement.

DadAtLarge Wed 22-Jul-09 10:11:02

"I went with her to check it out and it hs to be seen to be believed."
I've read here and in other threads about your experience with that school. But it's wrong to assume that every specialist school that caters for high academic ability is a hot house. Are you saying that none of them are just fun places where bright children learn at their own pace?

Why do you feel the need to push these children into classes of (many) underachievers some of whom have no desire to learn?

You really don't like bright children, do you? ;)

cornsillk Wed 22-Jul-09 10:15:56

''Very few people on here know as much as I do about the G&T. Most teachers out there don't know half of what I do about G&T. I could teach most G&T coordinators a thing or two about G&T.

The sad part is that most teachers may have never read a single document or paper on catering for children of exceptional intelligence.''

You are very wrong Dad at Large.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 22-Jul-09 10:19:20

You may know about more about Gifted and Talented provision than the people who wrote it, or whatever, but you apparently know bugger all about secondary schools...

I teach in a school whose stats would give you palpitations, but we set in almost every subject from year 7 (prbobably because of your kind of response to not setting rather than any educational benefit in many subjects) and, really importantly, I've rarely met a child with no desire to learn. You are writing off a huge swathe of less able children just because you are ignorant of them.

sarah293 Wed 22-Jul-09 10:20:26

Message withdrawn

Litchick Wed 22-Jul-09 10:40:25

DAL - I, unlike you, like kids generally. i don't save my respect for only those who are gifted. I would never use disgusting language to describe and belittle any of them.

And as usual, you've read but not understood at all.
What I have said, is that I was bowled over by the school in the US. It was my friend ie the loving Mother of the gifted DS who was worried.She felt very deeply that though his intellect would be stimulated he would have no childhood there.
I have never ever said I disagree with selective education, I have never said the state school system is working, hell I don't use it for my own DCs.
You have decided for me, what I think. You are wrong.

ZZZenAgain Wed 22-Jul-09 10:43:23

what school is this litchick or can you link to your thread about it?

... just curious, and a bit bored tbh

snorkle Wed 22-Jul-09 11:05:41

I don't like the idea of specialist gifted schools for several reasons...

1) There is a real problem with accurate selection. Sure some children stand out by a mile, but there are others who don't but who shine later who could benefit from the experience but who would miss out. There are a few who might be coached to an inch of their life to get in for whom it really isn't a suitable environment and there may also be a few who appear gifted young but who aren't - I'm not entirely sure about this one, but there are I believe children who read phenominally young but who aren't gifted I seem to remember (is the condition called hyperlexia?), so it could be an issue for a few.

2) Any child who fails to keep up & gets thrown out or who is continually struggling is going to have real esteem issues. For some personality types being a big fish in a small pond is better than being surrounded by bigger fish. You see this at Millfield I'm told where there are so many exceptionally sporty kids that children who would have starred at any other school don't even make the teams and lose heart & interest (obviously this is sport - I daresay the same applies in specialist music schools, and I expect it would also be true at a gifted school).

3) As there are so few truely gifted children, many would have to travel long, long distances daily (impacting quality of life) or board which again can mess up individuals not suited to it.

4) Gifted children (not all, but proportionally more than other groups) can tend to be very overly competitive and to push themselves extrememly hard in their thirst for knowledge. Collectively there's a danger of this getting out of hand.

In short I worry that a system of schools for the gifted would harm more children than it helps. IE: more children would be messsed up by it than there are truly gifted children who are currently failed by the existing system - it might be a different group (more likely there would be some overlap with the curent grouop) but it would be bigger.

I'm not saying we should leave the system as it is either. Clearly something does need to be done for (few) children we are currently failing and we should always be striving to improve the school experience and raise standards for all groups of children, gifted ones included. I just don't think this is the way forward.

thedolly Wed 22-Jul-09 11:43:32

I think the word 'gifted' should be banned - it's horrid. Some children have abilities in certain areas that some other children do not.

The NC is 'the learning that the nation has decided to set before its young'. If your child has abilities above and beyond what the NC aims to teach then the NC is not right for you and your family. As is often the case, parts of it are useful and parts are not. No nationally rolled out curriculum can be tailor made to suit the individual if their demands are outside the curriculum - this is the fundamental difference between Special Needs provision and G&T provision.

A specialist gifted school sounds like a good idea if what you want is for your child to be surrounded by others of a similar ability but I am not sure how it would work on a practical level.

usernametaken Wed 22-Jul-09 12:05:09

It seems that schools can be awarded 'specialist status' in The Arts, Sports, Technology etc areas but not in academic areas.

Schools catering for academic giftedness would have to ensure that all children were kept all rounders rather than channeling the kids down the academic route...yet be set up to deal with those 6yr olds who are ready for GCSE maths (not my kid btw).

How primary schools handle the exceptionally bright child really seems down to the school. What do they do with a child in Reception who reads GCSE level science books for fun? What do the schools do for those kids with the mega high IQs?

missmem Wed 22-Jul-09 12:45:42

What is this school in the US called Litchik?

usernametaken Wed 22-Jul-09 13:25:34

Litchik- Is it the Davidson Institute in Reno? http://www.davidsonacademy.unr.edu/

Looks very impressive.

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