Page last updated at 13:56 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

'Reluctance' to identify gifted

girl studying
The government wants all state schools to identify the gifted and talented

Many state schools are unwilling to identify gifted and talented pupils for fear of being seen as "elitist", a report says.

The government-commissioned report assessed the legacy of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth as "thin and limited value for money".

The Academy closed in 2007, and a new gifted and talented programme started.

The government says most schools participate in this, and put forward 800,000 gifted and talented children.

It wants every state primary and secondary school to identify those who fall into the top 5% of results, though schools are not bound to identify any particular percentage of their own pupils.

But the report says: "Unfortunately many schools were initially unwilling to provide NAGTY with details of their pupils who were within the top 5%.

"Although this resistance was gradually eroded over time, there was doubtless still a substantial core of schools unwilling to play their role in this process."

It suggests that schools may be confusing "elitism" with special needs.

The government was spending 4.75m each year on the Academy, which was set up in 1999.

But the report says for its work to have more impact on a national scale, considerably more investment than this would be needed - it estimates 200m a year.


"Gifted" describes the most able pupils in academic subjects, and "talented" identifies those who excel at sport or creative subjects.

The report, by consultants ACL, says it is impossible to say whether the Academy had much impact on children's results at age 16.

The Academy had not put in place methodologies to track the progress of children it supported.

But it did praise it for increasing the motivation and aspirations of students who enrolled, and raising the profile of gifted and talented children.

Gifted and talented pupils
Schools allocated money for gifted and talented pupils from the personalised learning budget
1bn available to primary and secondary schools each year
Money spent by each school is decided locally
National Academy for Gifted and Talented wound up in 2007
Gifted and talented programme now delivered by CfBT education trust
Source: Department for Children, Schools and Families

Ministers wanted to allay concerns that state schools were not stretching the brightest pupils, so it set up NAGTY within the University of Warwick.

But the report concludes it was the victim of a conflict with central government over its remit.

As the Academy tried to broaden its responsibilities, government funding did not keep pace.

Because of this, failure was in some respects "inevitable", the report said.

Gifted and talented pupils were mainly identified through test results - which may work well for the academically gifted, but is not an accurate way of identifying those talented at music, drama or sport, it added.

"There was relatively little for the talented (as opposed to the gifted) - both in terms of how they were identified and the activities that were available to them, " the report said.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families says 95% of secondary schools and 78% of primary schools were already identifying 800,000 gifted and talented children.

And it says the programme has moved on "significantly" since the Academy closed in 2007.

"This is not elitism," a spokeswoman said.

"It is about ensuring that all learners receive the challenge and support they need to reach their potential.

"By helping more disadvantaged young people to attend competitive universities, we can make a valuable contribution to improving social mobility."

Print Sponsor

Schools told to tease out talent
02 Nov 07 |  Education
League tables for gifted pupils
02 Jan 08 |  Education
Gifted pupils 'still missing out'
11 Jul 06 |  Education

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific