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Gifted and talented

why isn't there a gifted school in the UK?

60 replies

smellroses · 07/04/2012 23:33

Does anyone know why there is no specific provision for gifted children at a school in the UK? This is quite common in other countries. It could be offered with a boarding element in order to increase the intake.
Is it because (as in my experience) British people don't like anyone to know of their child's abilities? Or is it because there is already good provision for the academically able within the independent and grammar schools?
However, not all G&T are academically able or live near a grammar school (or can afford school fees...
Do you think there would be an apetite for a Gifted "Academy" to open?

OP posts:
var123 · 21/05/2015 11:30

Oops!! I didn't notice how long ago the thread was started. Nevertheless its an interesting question...!

A few years ago, when I first realised that Ds2 was very able, and then he got a NQT and stopped making progress (so the school was failing him), I did my very best to persuade the school to provide for him.

Very naively, i thought that pointing out the problem and asking nicely would suffice to fix this oversight. How they must have laughed after I left the room! Obviously, as i know now, that wasn't ever going to work. Then I tried looking up some regulation that says schools have to teach all the children and I found the "every child counts" policy which i thought was bound to contain what i was looking for.

It turned out that "Every Child Counts" was a misnomer. It was a policy to help the least able only. Then that was replaced with "No Child Left Behind" which at least said what it wanted in the title, although I am fairly sure that the authors added "and no child allowed to work ahead either" in invisible ink, because that's what these policies have meant in practice.

DS2 leaves primary school soon. I am sad to see my youngest suddenly so grown up, even though he's very happy about it! Mainly though, I'll be glad to leave primary school behind and I hope I am more realistic about what the reality of state secondary school will be, than I was six years ago about primary education.

PiqueABoo · 21/05/2015 20:22

There was some talk of this, but I don't believe it got very far e.g.

"TES understands that officials within the Department for Education are now keen to establish the schools on the model of Kolmogorov, a boarding school that selects the brightest mathematicians in Russia."

meditrina · 21/05/2015 20:27

Those are for 16-18 year olds, so specialist sixth form colleges. It might make sense for maths, but what do they do for the rest of the curriculum? Because even those who are amazing at SREM subjects might want to throw in something completely different for one of their choices.

PiqueABoo · 21/05/2015 21:05

I expect it's Physics. If you're starting from nowhere, then it's better to have something than the nothing that you inevitably get from trying to please everyone before you start.

balletgirlmum · 24/05/2015 21:58

Dd attends a boarding school for children talented in dance where children get funded places.

I agree, there should be some sort of provision for highly academically gifted children.

zzzzz · 26/05/2015 17:22

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AtomicDog · 26/05/2015 17:26

yess zzzz, but not all LAs have them. There are (as pointed out) schools for gifted dancers and musicians.

zzzzz · 26/05/2015 17:30

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balletgirlmum · 26/05/2015 19:26

Not sure where the nearest super selective area to us is? Manchester or Birmingham?

var123 · 27/05/2015 12:58

"I think for most people you just move to a super selective area."

Seems sensible, but when do you move? Start of year 5 maybe? You need to be confident that your child is really able and not just showing early promise that could easily even out. Also, there is the issue of finding school places for the remaining years of primary school plus finding places for the other children in the family. With waiting lists everywhere, it is easier said than done to move area, and the last thing you want to do with a particularly able child is to move them into a failing school.

Looking back, this is what DH and I should have done, but we didn't. We think we are well-informed and I have the drive (and research skills) to find out about things, but I missed this one.

Viviennemary · 27/05/2015 13:07

Some parents are quite pushy and ambitious enough without having the added incentive of a gifted and talented school for them to cat fight over places. I think it would be a disaster.

zzzzz · 27/05/2015 15:22

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hellsbells99 · 27/05/2015 22:40

"I think for most people you just move to a super selective area"
I don't think many people will move half way across the country for the sake of a school! Most of us have jobs to think about, and family, and other children, not to mention the cost of selling and buying a house.

zzzzz · 27/05/2015 22:46

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hellsbells99 · 27/05/2015 23:01

And a lot don't! I wouldn't have a clue where the nearest super selective school would be - perhaps as a previous poster said Birmingham or Manchester for me as I live between this 2 cities. What are needed are schools that can cater and differentiate between different levels. There are very few truly G&T children. In DD1's primary school, I would say a maximum of 1 per year. An exceptional girl from the year above went to state high school and is now finishing her 1st year at Cambridge studying a Stem subject; a girl from DD's year went to private secondary and will be going to Cambridge this year - she is also exceptional. There are some other very clever ones (who are also capable of the likes of Oxbridge) but not what I would call G&T.

zzzzz · 27/05/2015 23:22

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balletgirlmum · 27/05/2015 23:38

That's all very well zzzz when it's academic of shall I live in x suburb or y suburb.

But when like hells (we must live in a similar area) the nearest super selective is maybe 40-50 miles away it's not feasible to move to a different area.

zzzzz · 27/05/2015 23:46

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balletgirlmum · 27/05/2015 23:51

2 hours on the m6 just isn't feasibke.

balletgirlmum · 27/05/2015 23:52

Do people really travel that far for grammar school?

hellsbells99 · 28/05/2015 00:01

I am lucky to live in an area with good state comprehensive schools. Our nearest grammar school is in the next county and they wouldn't get in because of distance. The grammar school after that is less popular so they would get in, but you are talking of well over an hour on the school bus - no thanks!
To me, G&T is not just an A* pupil but one who is 2 or 3 years ahead of their peers, one who questions everything and tries to find out the answers for themselves, one that tries to prove theorems rather than just learn them.
I have a clever DD2 who is currently taking AS levels and on target for all As and will probably be on target for all A*s at A2 level - but I wouldn't say she was G&T, she is just clever with a very good memory.

hellsbells99 · 28/05/2015 00:02

Are you in the south zzzzz?

zzzzz · 28/05/2015 12:19

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stn24 · 28/05/2015 12:41

I don't understand the purpose of the op asking the questions. Even if that school exists, it wouldn't cater for 99% of the kids that got labelled G&T nowadays. It wouldn't cater for most of the kids in super selective grammar.

Just imagine for every year group, you take the 1 best kid for each academic subject from each academically selective school in country and put them into the same group. I'm talking about kids that can do A Level Further Maths in year 7 or 8 given the right guidance or similar ability in other subjects.

I don't know how many selective schools there are but let's say 400 (164 grammar and around the same for independent plus some exceptional cases). Let's say it difficult to get them into one place so let separate them out into 3 different schools around the country. Then you would have the gifted school or schools. Let's say there is an entrance exam every year to cater for late developers and the not so super gifted one can go back to their normal selective or super selective school.

Trust me it is not very nice going to the gifted school or one of the 3 gifted schools. Because even once your kid gets into it, there still be the kids at the top, the kids in the middle and the kids at the bottom of the class. The teachers still have to cater for the middle kids and some kids still get bored, either they are at the top or at the bottom. Most of the kids still know that even if they study for their whole life they are still not as good as the kids at the top of the class but they are still gifted kids, who can sleep-walk through an Oxbridge entrance test or an interview :)

So there is no point of a gifted school. Let kids be kids and they will grow up and be happy.

NotCitrus · 28/05/2015 12:56

stn24 has it. However selective such a school is, it's going to have a range of abilities in different subjects and more importantly there will be a huge range of background knowledge, so it's still going to have to treat pupils as individuals and encourage them to learn the important things that they might not be so gifted at or interested in. In which case they might as well be at the same schools as everyone else.

Having been in academically-selective schools since age 7 (except for one year), and known some kids that got accelerated through school and ended up at Oxbridge age 15-16, I conclude that social skills are really important for bright kids, and were ignored in the 80s and early 90s. Happy kids learn and go on to do well. Unhappy kids tend not to, even with a string of stellar qualifications.

The only reasons people want specialist schools for clever kids are because they think it will reduce boredom (not necessarily - see above) and they think clever kids get bullied in comps - and if that is the case, the answer is to stop the bullying, not move the kids! If there is a bullying problem, removing certain children isn't going to stop it - it'll just be other kids getting it instead.

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