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Monday, 27 January, 2003, 11:23 GMT
Talent search for gifted pupils
Warwick University
Bright students get university-style teaching
A summer school for some of the UK's most gifted pupils is to expand its number of students from 900 to 5,000.

The National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, based at Warwick University, is appealing for more parents to put forward their children's names.

The initiative, based on projects in the US, is aimed at the top 5% of the ability range among 11 to 16-year-olds.

Children taking part get the chance to study subjects not usually offered at secondary school, such as forensics, Japanese, geology and genetics.

Full potential

School Standards Minister David Milliband said: "The Academy provides a range of exciting opportunities for our brightest pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"It supports schools striving to match the needs of their most able, and is fundamental to our work, enabling all pupils to reach their full potential."

It is hoped up to 150,000 children could eventually benefit from the Academy's programmes, which also include evening and weekend "masterclasses".

But entry does not depend entirely on success in school tests.

Applicants must present a selection of evidence of their ability, such as schoolwork or prize-winning competition entries.

David Milliband
David Milliband

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, has expressed concern over the creation of an "elite group" among pupils.

But Mr Milliband said: "We know that there is a lot of exceptional talent in our classrooms, and we need parents and teachers to tell us about it to make sure that all gifted youngsters can benefit from the Academy's work."

The Academy began as a pilot scheme last summer, with 100 children taking part in three-week courses after 520 applications were received.

The number of registered students has since been expanded to 900. This will increase to 5,000 during this year.

The Academy, commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills, is being run in partnership with the Centre for Talented Youth at John Hopkins University in Maryland, US.

It is expected to cost 20m over its first five years and will be supported by government funding, Warwick University, business and donations.

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