She told of an educational psychologist who presented a four-year-old with three bricks, one red, one blue and one green. “You could also look at the role of women in society at that time, something to develop wider thinking on the part of the pupil.”Efforts to identify gifted and talented pupils should start early, she added. “For instance, with Pride and Prejudice, you could get them to do a project comparing its view of women with those of other contemporary authors,” she said. These will be extended to science teachers next year and design and technology the year after.A course for serving science teachers will start today at Sheffield Hallam University and another for English teachers will start at the academy later in the week.Professor Eyre said that in English, for example, teachers could stimulate bright children’s interests while reading literature demanded by GCSE and A-level syllabuses. The result was at best day-dreaming, at worst frustration leading to trouble.”Five years on there is a step-change.
In five years’ time, the impact of gifted and talented provision should be as important for school pupils in widening opportunities, removing barriers to excellence and putting learners in control as the Open University was to university students.”Next month’s pilot courses for trainee teachers will start with 15 trainees undertaking three-week courses in maths at Warwick and Canterbury. “The bright student was too often embarrassed by being labelled a smart alec. We make this bland assumption that gifted and talented pupils will somehow make it on their own. The education system is beginning to come to terms with the fact that their individual needs must be met.”David Miliband, the Minister for School Standards, said that the setting up of the academy, which had led to schools, particularly in the inner cities, to seek out their brightest students for special tuition, would herald a revolution in attitudes towards fostering talent.”Until five years ago, bright students were far too often confronted by the very British mentality which says it is wrong to celebrate success and worse still actively to encourage it,” Mr Miliband said. Membership entitles the children to take part in any of the academy’s activities, including summer schools and accessing online resources.Professor Eyre said: “I think for far too long we have had a laissez faire attitude towards talent. That’s not a very satisfactory answer to the situation.”The academy, which was set up with government funding two years ago, aims to cater for the top 5 per cent of youngsters in state and private schools and has enlisted 30,000 members.
In addition, a series of courses for serving teachers in English and maths will start today.The drive is being backed by ministers, who believe it is not enough just to send Britain’s brightest students to summer schools (such as those run by Nagty) and that they must be stimulated when they return to their schools.In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Deborah Eyre, the director of Nagty, said of existing post-graduate certificate in education (PGCE) courses: “They are very busy courses and most institutions give only one lecture on gifted and talented children and how to provide a programme of training for PGCE students which would help them develop some expertise in that area. Newly qualified teachers are to be offered training in how to get the best out of their brightest pupils.
The pilot courses to help teachers stretch potential high-flyers are to be launched by the government-backed National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (Nagty), based at the University of Warwick, next month. “It was others that identified us and asked us if we would be willing to be involved. What we’re doing is only what we thought we ought to be doing.”. We are still trying to get away from the ‘boff’ syndrome [highly able pupils suffering abuse from classmates] that there was some some years ago.
There was quite a lot of ‘boff’ talk but now, I think, we can praise our colleagues.”The link with New Zealand was just one of the reasons that Penair has become one of 18 schools in the UK to be chosen as “ambassadors” for the drive to improve education for gifted and talented youngsters.”We didn’t rush forward for this,” Mrs Vann said. They recognise achievement: it was awe-inspiring and had a tremendous effect on our staff,” said the head teacher, Barbara Vann.”It showed that you could celebrate achievement without feeling that in any way it is reprehensible. Staff from the UK school visited their new twin institution, which had just won an inter-school golf competition.The boys who had taken part in the competition began by telling their classmates what had happened and then – one by one – quite spontaneously went into a celebratory performance of the haka, a traditional indigenous war dance.”We are taking a leaf out of the Maori book. Inspiration for recognition of the achievement of talented pupils at a comprehensive school in Cornwall came from the other side of the world: the sight of boys from New Zealand performing the haka in morning assembly.
Penair School in Truro, a 1,200-pupil, 11-to-16 school, is twinned with Rotorua Boys’ High School. A large number of Republicans agree with me and I want them to speak out.”THE CVAge: 53Education: Boston Latin School and University of PennsylvaniaCareer: 1985-88: Deputy assistant secretary of state for intelligence1985-92: State Department1989-92: Assistant secretary for politico-military affairs1998-2000: National co-ordinator for security, infrastructure protection, and counter-terrorism1992-03: Chair of the counter-terrorism group, National Security CouncilMarch 2004: Testified to national commission on terrorist attacksAuthor of ‘Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror – What Really Happened’.