What kind of G and T activities would you like to see in your child's school?

(35 Posts)
GetStuffezd Wed 14-Aug-13 11:30:19

Hello all,

I work in a Junior school and will be co-ordinating G and T this year. There was nothing G and T-related at all last year, which is a shame as we have some wonderful children who love learning.

In the first few weeks I was going to give to all teachers some information about what being G and T means (NOT simply being bright) and create the register. But I'm not sure what to do next. Obviously children are G and T in different ways.

Every Friday PM we have "house learning" which is a range of mixed-year group activities/sports/crafts, etc. So this is most probably when I will have the G and T group. Can anyone suggest how I could use this time? Is there any sense in having a maths-based activity, for example, and including children who on the register for G and T English?

Any ideas would be really appreciated!

chauffeurmummy Wed 14-Aug-13 12:34:58

Have you looked at Potential Plus Uk? They have a lot of information for schools which may help you out!

GetStuffezd Wed 14-Aug-13 12:42:23

Ooh no, never heard of it. Thanks - I shall look now.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 14-Aug-13 14:40:03

Some kind of mentoring is what I would really like to see. My DD really struggles to see that whilst she is truly exceptional in science (her teachers words) and very gifted in Maths she is also good a English (level 4 in year 4). But as her English is not as good as Maths and science she thinks she is bad at it!
I can tell her this till I'm blue in the face, but it makes no difference. Mentoring I think would help with this.

GetStuffezd Wed 14-Aug-13 15:21:50

That's interesting LoneCat, thanks for that. I will have to think about that one.

Retropear Wed 14-Aug-13 21:40:28

Not sure what the value of a g&t group wold be.A year 3 maths g&t child would have v diff needs to a year 4 or 5 or one G&T in English.You might get a child G&T utterly dire in other subjects.Surely provision for all children to be stretched in all lessons is the goal.

Oh and children don't need to be G&T to be delightful and love learning.

Not sure re mentoring as all kids could benefit from that,why should just a few get it?

GetStuffezd Wed 14-Aug-13 21:57:31

Hmm. From the observations I've carried out, albeit only English, the teachers in our school do provide ample opportunities for the highest ability children. This is reflected in excellent results across the school. I can definitely see the problems in a single group but I do think there can be was to use that pm session, which is what I'm trying to gather suggestions for. Perhaps some people's children have had curriculum specialists come in to do various activities?

Oh and children don't need to be G&T to be delightful and love learning
I most certainly didn't suggest this in any way.

Somethingyesterday Wed 14-Aug-13 22:06:12

Music, poetry and theatre that is completely outside the curriculum and their day to day experience.

Retropear Wed 14-Aug-13 22:15:58

But how is that a need which justifies the cost of teaching time away from other children?

As a parent I'd be livid.

Sorry but if the G&T kids are catered for why not use the time for kids who need it.

Retropear Wed 14-Aug-13 22:19:52

Curriculum specialists coming in isn't that cost effective.Our dc get sent on courses for areas suited to them.

GetStuffezd Wed 14-Aug-13 22:24:04

It wouldn't be taking time away from other children. Whatever we organised would be on a Friday afternoon when the whole school does off-curriculum groups. So my group would be this group, or perhaps a section of it, depending on the subject.

I have a budget for G and T which the Head has provided - not massive but a decent amount. Certainly not taken away from any other children.
We spend a massive amount of time and resources, quite rightly, on other vulnerable groups, such as children with speech and language difficulties, social problems, autism, etc. Why should G and T children not their educational needs met?

I don't quite get what you're livid about.

GetStuffezd Wed 14-Aug-13 22:25:27

My first port of call for specialist would be the local secondary school, who I'd hope would send someone free as part of that person's CPD perhaps. Or at least they might be able to point me in the direction of some useful resources. Possibly worth a try.

Retropear Wed 14-Aug-13 22:30:03

But their needs are being met,you said they were.

Wasting money on extra curricular activities for a few isn't fair,all kids would love to enjoy the same.

If they are being stretched and have access to the uni courses what more do they need?If you must spend money save it for the kids whose families can't afford to send their dc on the uni courses.

GetStuffezd Wed 14-Aug-13 22:39:06

I think we probably disagree on the whole principle, retropear.

We are a very small school and give every one of our children the best possible opportunities. We organise exciting trips and excursions. For children who struggle financially we have a fund which allows us to pay part or all of the cost towards these visits. Sometimes we have visitors working with one class and not another. Sometimes we arrange craft sessions for groups of children who could benefit from some time out of class, for whatever reason. Last year I ran a cooking club but could only take on 8 children at a time. Many couldn't do it. Was this unfair? The children didn't seem to think so.

At some point all children are going to experience having something others haven't, or vice versa. Other co ordinators of other subjects will organise relevant events for their particular children. This is mine, and I want to do it to the best of my ability.

wearingatinhat Wed 14-Aug-13 22:43:11

It is a difficult one is n't it? Because whilst us mothers whinge and say 'well the school does nothing to support G&T' and lets face it, very few schools do anything very meaningful -the needs of certain G&T children would be quite different from other children of the same age. At the same time however, many children are going to benefit from certain G&T activities and it seems unfair to select children. A lot of the special needs should be catered for in any case, in the classroom as part of normal differentiation.

I would probably start therefore in looking at what makes G&T children differen,t as a special need, and work from there. There are good lists on potentialplus.org.
Off the top of my head:
Many able children suffer from low self esteem and perfectionist tendencies. As lonecatwithkitten has hinted many do not see themselves as able, particularly in weaker areas, which may only be 'relative' weaknesses. DS's school actually told him he was 'one of the most able in the school' and this made an enormous difference to his confidence and his willingness to work. Previously he was happy to 'keep below the radar'. A mentor would certainly help.
Research skills: able children need to study topics in greater depth and some have an incredible thirst for knowledge. Pointing them in the direction of additional resources to supplement could be done in each class.
Study skills: mind mapping, note taking, report writing etc
Able children are often voracious readers from a very early age, they have natural inference skills and they would benefit from analysing their literature in greater depth from an earlier age and discussing with like minded children. They typically have wide vocabularies and strong verbal reasoning abilities, they often enjoy debating, presenting and influencing.
Able children often have difficulties with handwriting and organisation skills. Opportunties should be given to show leadership and presenting skills.
Parents should be advised of their child's abilities and any cognitive and subject standardised testing should be shared with the aim all parties working together to ensure that the child reaches their potential. Advice could also be given on future schooling, options available etc. A parent is less likely to whisk a child out for bursaries and private education if they feel that the school is being open, working in partnership with the parents and is committed to a more individualised path, where necessary. In turn, the school benefits by keeping a higher proportion of their higher achievers likely to achieve levels 5s and 6s.

I do not know how big your school is or how collaborative the approach, but would it be possible to set up a small working party, consisting of teachers and parents?

I could go on (and on!) but I think lots of help is available from potentialplus.org.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 14-Aug-13 22:53:47

Wearatinhat has put it so much better than me. Perfectionist tendencies are very difficult. For example DD often says there's no point in trying in English as I'm no good at it - she fails to see whilst it is not as throng as some other subjects he is till good at it.
Still in this day and age it is not cool to be good at something so often theses children hide their true ability due to anything from gentle teasing to full on bullying.

GetStuffezd Wed 14-Aug-13 23:00:07

Thank you, there's a huge amount for me to think about in that post! I'm feeling a bit defensive about G and T provision as I do think there are things that can be provided beyond differentiated lessons. And so, so much provision is given to children with other SEN (which I obviously don't object to) but not this particular group. I will have to think about it further.

That potential plus site is really good, thanks, I had a look at it earlier and it helped me consider the different profiles of gifted/talented children. Very interesting.

From my pov - where my son goes to a primary which on the whole I've kind of been happy with... (few issues but not to do with this so won't blab on about them)

He's been on the school's G and T register since year 2 I think possibly longer - I've no idea as they just mentioned it in passing a couple of times and it's never made one spot of difference for him apart from - Oh they did get some swimming lessons earlier in the school than usual hmm (parents paid for) that's how I found out he was on the register as the swimming letter was headed 'Gifted and talented swimming.'

So. I could kind of see the reason for that as looking into it a bit more one of the possible aims for G and T pupils is to further enrich them in areas other than their talent, to help them be not so one-sided.

As for his talent. I was told it was for his IT and technology abilities which were very good and he is obsessive. The school had done NOTHING to address this. He has never done anything extra. If anything because he is so keen whenever he asks if he can go on the laptops etc he always gets batted down when other kids don't. He has not been stretched in this area at all :-( The saddest thing was he had a chance to shine at the end of school year. A project was set and -no- other homework was set for a month hmm He did it. Took it in - Sorry - it was a powerpoint presentation he'd worked on which had taken up hours, a damn amount of time when he could have been doing other stuff like 11+ practice. Anyway - he took it in about 10 school days before the end of term. He sat and watched everyone else's. I kept asking if they'd watched his and no. I had to ask for the memory stick back on the last day and even then teacher didn't even say to him that she's looked at it. So sad and angry for him.

I'd say - because his talent has not been addressed except by paying lipservice to it on paper, he has at the moment, maybe not progressed at all. He could have come on amazingly in 4 years if given the right encouragement but now he's pretty much stagnated and now all the rest of his class are probably now able to do what he could do then, but he has made little progress since.

So fab. Make sure G and T procedures and aims are clear to make it worthwhile!! And hopefully your aims may include some actual encouragement in the area in which the child is said to have such talent.

The End.

tethersend Wed 14-Aug-13 23:02:04

Critical thinking skills- perhaps a debating society.

Much of the curriculum is prescriptive, and does not offer enough opportunity for children to develop their critical thinking, IMO.

Also philosophy some info here encouraging children to come up with questions rather than answers. Again, not enough room in the curriculum to fully explore this.

P.s. DS (10) is about to emter yr6.

wearingatinhat Wed 14-Aug-13 23:10:23

Yes, lonecat - we are dreading the 'it's not cool phase' and the bullying. Did n't some famous author on the gifted - was it Carol Dwecker? write about girls in particular losing confidence in subjects that they had to 'think' about because able children are so used to finding everything easy that when they have to think - they decide the subject is too difficult and they are not good at it. DS is like this with maths - he is good at it but not as advanced as in literacy, therefore he says 'I'm not good at it'. When he discovered his class position, suddenly everything changed and now he says 'I am good at it, but I do not like it'. Hallelujah!

ouryve Wed 14-Aug-13 23:35:00

Retropear, you're being terribly obtuse and your anger is quite misplaced.

I have two kids with SN and statements. No way do I begrudge pupils who are G&T a bit of time being mentally stretched and stimulated while other children are basketweaving/polevaulting/gardening or whatever. One of my kids with SN is also G&T, anyhow. The two aren't mutually exclusive. His ASD and ADHD cause him enough problems without him being bored with school, as well.

Tethersend has some fantastic ideas, GetStuffezd. If you can only work with one group, then changing the main activity every half term will help to give them all tasters of different activities. Maybe for half a term, pick a country and focus on researching and discussing the language/culture/history/cuisine. If you choose Spain, then there's enough food to taste to make it interesting for children of that age - flavours like paprika and saffron are subtle but clear and describing them would stretch the language of pupils gifted in English and otherwise. And why is saffron a feature of Spanish dishes and not British ones? Why is it so expensive? Bull fighting is a topic ripe for debate from a moral standpoint and that of pre-conceptions. What else happens in Spain that is far less barbaric but which doesn't come to mind readily?

Other children might be playing games on their Friday afternoons. No reason why the G&T group can't, once in a while. Even though it's cliched, they're a good age for learning chess, but even if they played something that relied more on chance, such as yahtzee, or pass the pigs, they could work out things to do to maximise their chances of winning (eg knowing when to take a risk or cut their losses. Even Cluedo takes some thought for children that age as they have to learn to make systematic deductions.

ouryve Wed 14-Aug-13 23:37:45

Potentialplus have a new leaflet out about HLP children in schools, btw. It's a bit soundbitey, but useful, all the same.

runningonwillpower Wed 14-Aug-13 23:59:32

I've always thought that 'gifted and talented' meant the child who was way beyond his or her peers. Thinking the Ruth Lawrences of this world.

Now it seems to mean a child who is a bit cleverer on some aspect (but not necessarily all) of the curriculum. And to tick the Ofsted box, you have to be seen to be meeting that need.

A good teacher should be able to meet the needs of all of the pupils, on both ends of the normal ability range.

Teachers out there, be honest, how many 'gifted and talented' pupils have you truly met?

It it's lots then by definition they are not 'gifted and talented', they're just clever.

Au79 Thu 15-Aug-13 07:43:39

Why don't you get the group together at the first session, have an icebreaker of some kind, and ask them what they are interested in doing? Get them to research their ideas.

We did many interesting activities with a Saturday club with the old version of potential plus, but the parents running it dominated the choice of activities to suit their own children's interests, and ignored my DC's suggestions- but doing different things was still fun.

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