Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1-48)
1 FEBRUARY 2010
Q1 Chairman: I welcome our
witnesses, Professor Deborah Eyre, Sue Mordecai, Joy Blaker, Denise
Yates and Richard Gould, to the evidence session. I apologise
for trying to get as much expertise as possible into today's session,
but as you can see, it will be both stimulating and broad-reaching.
As I said outside, we have been waiting for some time to look
at the gifted and talented programme, because in some senses it
is a classic. It has been around for some time. It has changed
and had different modes. Some of us have actually kept an eye
on it. I visited the University of Warwick with Sir Peter Lampl
at one stage to look at it and met Professor Eyre. We all know
that it has had an interesting history, which I have been rereading
over the weekend. We do not normally allow five witnesses to give
evidence at the same time. Can I tell you that whatever theymy
colleaguesask you, not all of you can answer each question,
otherwise, we'll never cover the breadth of the question. Please
forgive us for that. I will have to cut people off. If you indicate
that you want to come back on a question, I will try to make it
manageable by calling you. Professor Eyreall of youdo
you mind if we revert to first name terms rather than titles?
Doing so adds to the informality and the speed. Let us start with
Deborah and riff across a tiny element of what your involvement
in gifted and talented has been. Can you put in a tiny nutshell
whether you think it has been a good thing?
My background is that I've got 30-some years experience in gifted
and talented from the school levelthe local authority levelas
a university researcher and as part of the World Council for Gifted
and Talented Children. At the moment, I make my living designing
and advising on system-wide schemes for nurturing giftedness and
creativity across the world. We've had a lot of variety in the
UK. In terms of where it has all gone, that would be interesting
to explore. One of the lessons from other parts of the world is
that you have to have a very sharp focus if you want to make a
Q2 Chairman: When I visited
you in Warwick some years ago, you seemed to have a sharp focus
and to be doing all right. Why did the Government pull the plug
on Warwick doing the programme?
Professor Eyre: I think the Government
felt that some of the things we were doing at Warwick were really
good, and everybody who worked on that programme is extremely
proud of what they did. It had a very small amount of money£4.75
million a yearwhich in the great scheme of things is not
that big. It had a remit that started off asking us to work only
on out-of-school programmes and on informal learning. We did that
and as part of that, we discovered an awful lot about what happens
to gifted and talented students in the 21st century, in relation
to our autonomous learners and what they do. Then we were asked
to expand the cohort from 20,000 to 200,000 on the same budget
and to take on school-based provisionalso on the same budget.
So at the point at which we came to a change in contract, there
was a decision at Government level to split the in-school and
out-of-school work and, in both cases, to scale it up substantially.
Warwick took the view that what was on offer in the contract was
not really the right kind of territory for a university, so it
indicated that it didn't wish to be the delivery partner.
Chairman: You didn't bid for the second
Professor Eyre: No.
Sue Mordecai: Good afternoon.
My background has been in gifted and talented education for 20
years. Previous to that, I was a history and politics teacher
in Wales and in England. My current jobmy day jobis
principal adviser with Bromley local authority, where I am heading
up the school improvement agenda. But I am here in the capacity
of Chair of Trustees and President of the National Association
for Able Children in Education, which is the largest independent
organisation that supports teachers in schools. It has been in
existence for 27 years. We have membership in virtually every
local authority in England and we are heavily involved in Wales
and further afield.
Q3 Chairman: Is all well with
gifted and talented programmes for young people in this country
Sue Mordecai: It's a mixed picture.
There were lots of good intentions, but it seems that there are
too many programmesthat's perhaps the key wordand
lots of initiatives, with a lack of ideological and philosophical
underpinning and research behind some of the events and programmes.
Probably the main criticism would be that it did not impact sufficiently
where it should have impacted, which is in the classroom.
Joy Blaker: Good afternoon. I
am primary gifted and talented consultant for Rotherham local
authority, and within that role I feel it is my duty to champion
gifted and talented children, to work closely with schools to
create challenge and engagement, and to promote innovative pedagogy.
I also believe that it is my role both to work with agencies and
experts to bring children together in groupings that span personalities,
social class and other barriers that could present themselves,
so that children are brought together in a learning community,
which is important, and to engage with the region to promote research
opportunities and wider experiences for children that I think
are very important, particularly in areas with high levels of
Q4 Chairman: Hasn't that more or
less been the drift? The Government have been changing their mind
and are being more focused these dayscertainly since the
recent report on social mobilityon gifted and talented
children from a poorer background.
Joy Blaker: I think that has been
an increased focus, and is very important, but I think there is
a danger in focusing very much on areas of deprivation and not
bringing those children into social groupings with children from
other areas. That is important to break down barriers and to create
bridges that will give them the strength to go forward in future.
I think that needs to be from an early age, with early intervention
when children are encouraged to recognise their strengths, and
to socialise with children on the basis of their strengths rather
than their differences.
Denise Yates: I am Chief Executive
of the National Association for Gifted Children, which is an organisation
that works face to face with about 15,000 parents and carers a
year. We have been in existence for 43 years. My background is
that I have dealt with the whole spread of special needs within
education and training since about 1984.
Q5Chairman: Thank you. Are you happy
with the way things are at the moment, or do you think that the
gifted and talented world could be improved?
Denise Yates: I would agree with
what NACE saidthere is a wide spread of different involvements
in schools. There are some excellent schools with excellent leadership
and excellent programmes for the gifted and talented, but parents
are extremely worried that the other end is not catered for. Many
schools do not understand what gifted and talented means and are
not prepared to put in place programmes that cater for gifted
and talented children, and parents are extremely concerned.
Q6 Chairman: I was talking
to a young woman who was in high school at about the time all
this started, and she felt a bit resentful that she was not chosen
as being gifted and talented. She felt it was a way in which teachers
could play favourites. Is that a commonplace resentment that you
Denise Yates: The sooner gifted
and talented stops being seen as an elitist issue and starts being
seen as an equal opportunities issue the better. If you pick someone,
by definition you will always not pick someone. That issue needs
to be considered within society as a whole.
Q7 Chairman: The current programme
started with 1 or 2%, and the percentage then gradually increased.
Is that a mistake? Is it best to narrow it to 1 or 2%, or should
you broaden it to a larger percentage of 5 or 10%?
Denise Yates: I think I would
be more concerned about having programmes for gifted and talented
children writ large. Throw the dice up, and see what falls. Let's
see whether some of the under-achievers who sit at the back of
the class and who are bored and lack challenge are being picked
up as well as the ones who sit at the front of the class and hand
in their homework on time.
Richard Gould: Good afternoon.
I am director of Villiers Park Educational Trust, which works
with post-16 able students, and have been doing that for about
45 years. I have worked with the organisation for about 20 years.
I think Student Voice is an important part of our work, and we
speak to 1,000-plus students every year. When I started to work
in the field about 20 years ago, listening to those students made
us realise that there were things that needed to change in the
everyday school, and that it was very important to add them to
our programme, which until then had been working only with students.
One problem that has not been resolved with the whole gifted and
talented agenda is what happens with colleges. A lot has been
happening in schools and, as colleagues have said, it is a mixed
picture. There has been a lot of improvement and provision in
many schools, but there has been little to involve sixth form
and FE colleges, which is a big problem.
Q8 Chairman: I've warmed you
up. I have only one more question before I pass over to my colleagues.
Deborah, you were involved in the first wave of five years. You
have been keeping in touch, of course, with what has happened
since. What do you think of Government policyhas there
been a seamless building up of experience with things always getting
better, or has it gone up and down? The policy agenda looks a
bit dislocated. What do you think?
Professor Eyre: It's inconsistent
and incoherentthat's what I think. There are a variety
of stakeholders who have goals and purposes for a gifted and talented
programme. They have no intention of working with each other and
sometimes work in opposition to each other. For example, under
the social mobility agenda, the purpose of a gifted and talented
initiative is to increase social mobility. That is its main purpose,
even if that means holding back some people in order to allow
others to catch up. Sets of initiatives sometimes come out, such
as the fair access into the professions initiative, where social
mobility is all. There is a concentration on mentoring soft skills
and so on. Those things are all tremendously important, but I
am attached to the University of Oxford and, at the end of the
day, when we are looking for potential students, we want those
kinds of skills, but we also want high academic performance. High
academic performance is, for the majority of people, exactly what
other countries in the world are concerned with. They see this
as an economic issue as much as an educational issue. It is about
making sure that all our students in school have an opportunity
to achieve highly because as a country we need a high performing,
highly skilled set of young people. In other parts of the world,
there is far less emphasis on who is or is not gifted and far
more emphasis on what kind of provision leads to high performance
in a wide variety of domains. In other parts of the world, when
you say that part of the argument in the UK is about whether you
are academic or vocationalthat is cognitive or skillspeople
will throw back that it is difficult to envisage any kind of endeavour
that doesn't involve both cognitive and skills development. That
is absolutely the case. In some ways, I think we have a very old-fashioned
view of what we might do in terms of gifted and talented. We are
living in a very fast-moving world and statistics show that most
people are working in jobs that didn't exist when they went to
school and that many of us will have had seven or eight jobs by
our late 30s. The whole idea that everything that will happen
to you can be predicted seems to be refuted by the evidence. All
the work that has been done in the last 10 to 20 years in neuroscience
and psychology, and research that has looked at very successful
people and their trajectories to success, suggests that the opportunities
and conditions that people experiencewhat happens to them
educationallyplus personality characteristics such as a
desire to do well, are more influential than any inherited predisposition
or other factors. We seem to be in a rather mid-20th century model,
whereas other parts of the world are moving into what I would
describe as a more 21st century model, which involves an ambition
of high performance for a lot of people.
Q9 Chairman: I suppose one
trouble is that some of my constituents would say, "Gifted
and talented for what?" When I thought about gifted and talented,
I always thought of the brilliant scientists who would be researching
the genome and medicine, or top people in music, the arts and
public administration. You mentioned Oxford. I remember walking
across the hallowed turf of Magdalen College with the Master.
I said, "Do any of your graduates go into public service,
such as local government, teaching or the civil service?"
He said, "No, no, no, they all go into the City." If
gifted and talented will only produce people who go to make a
lot of money in the City, I won't be able to persuade my constituents
to support it, will I?
Professor Eyre: One of the joys
of the opportunity to work with the National Academy for Gifted
and Talented Youth was that we had 152,000 students drawn from
all over the country. They are very articulate students and they
talked, so one of the outcomes was that we have a far better understanding
of what it is like to be in their position and what they are interested
in doing. Generally speaking, most of those students had a very
high level of social responsibility. They wanted to give back.
Certainly, there may have been a minority who saw themselves going
into the City, but they were thata minority.
Chairman: Perhaps not at Magdalen.
Professor Eyre: Maybe not.
Chairman: The message we got from that
response is very interesting, Deborah, but "inconsistent
and incoherent" will remain with us for the moment. I now
ask Graham to lead on looking at the in-school provision.
Q10 Mr Graham Stuart: Before
I do so, may I follow up on the previous point. I wonder whether
the panel think that the balance between the funding for tackling
underperformance, particularly in areas of disadvantage, and the
funding for supporting the gifted and talented has been struck
Denise Yates: If every child matters,
so too does every gifted and talented child. What parents are
looking for is some sort of equality in the amount of funding
being given. That said, I think there are structural issues that
need to be addressedin areas of deprivation, for examplebut
we also need to look at areas in a wider sense by looking, for
example, at children in rural areas, children who are underachieving,
or children who are what is called dual or multiple exceptional.
I don't think it's just one issue, but certainly I would not want
a child's needs to be looked at in terms of the postcode or the
amount of income their parent has. I would want it to be available
Q11 Mr Stuart: What about
their potential? Here you are, a champion for gifted and talented,
trying desperately to pose the whole argument in terms of social
equity, when in fact the answer that Barry undoubtedly wouldn't
give his constituents is that 25% of all income tax is paid by
1% of taxpayers, and 40% of income tax is paid by 5% of taxpayers.
That is what provides the teachers and public services. We actually
need people who will be globally competitive. We need to have
excellence promoted and supported in this country and not always
couched in terms of equity. It is also about excellence, not just
equity. Have we been cowed by the current debate and mind-think
so that we are unable to stand up and speak the fact that we should
give special resources and support to those, wherever they come
from, who are brilliant? Failing to do so is a mistake.
Denise Yates: Absolutely. That
is exactly what I am saying. It should be an equal opportunity
issue, so everyone should have equal access to the resources that
are available, but at the same time we should understand that
there are some structural needs that have to be addressed. For
example, if a kid in an inner-city area hasn't got a laptop and
£250 would buy them one, so be it. What I would be happier
to see, however, is a national strategy that said, "Okay,
we're going to deal with that as one issue. Next year we will
deal with the issue of children in rural areas, and the year after
we will deal with underachievement." I see no long-term vision
in the current programme for how we want it to be seen. You asked
why we are doing all this. Yes, a very strong reason is to raise
talent and aspiration in this country, but I don't think we should
forget about the child either. Why are we doing it for the child?
Because the child wants to feel fulfilled. They do not want to
know whether they are going to be a banker because they went to
Magdalen college. They want to know that they go home and they're
Chairman: Very good point.
Richard Gould: There is a third
element. For the child's sake, gifted and talented is important,
and it is important for competitive advantage and economic reasons
Mr Stuart: Good.
Richard Gould: To answer your
question specifically, I think the focus on excellence can have
an impact not just on society and the individual child, but on
the culture, ethos and attainment of the school, and it can move
the whole school along. That is something I believe very strongly.
Q12 Mr Stuart: Thank you,
Richard, but that didn't actually answer my question. The question
was, have we got the balance wrong? Are we pouring money into
tackling disadvantage? Does the removal of the contract for gifted
and talented show that this Government are not interested in supporting
Chairman: Don't put answers into the
Sue Mordecai: I would say that
we need to look at how the money is being used. That is critical.
I come back to the fact that I don't think enough money has gone
into the schools and had the impact that it should have donewhether
on the advantaged or disadvantaged. It is not always about money.
It is about considering the pedagogy in practice and the mindset.
I can think of some outstanding schools that have not necessarily
benefited from funding. I deal directly with my authority on standards
funds; it is a question of mindsets, training and the focus on
how we use the money. We need to step back and consider the question
of what is an educated person today, for the 21st century. How
are we going to get there? Why is it that some schools are highly
successful with their most able? We should stop having these initiatives,
stop spending money, stand back and reflect and, as Deborah has
said, learn from other countriesalthough most of them seem
to be learning from us. There is a paucity of research in this
country. There is a lot elsewhere, so what can we learn from it?
What do we want for the future?
Q13 Chairman: Deborah, can
you come in? You run a programme. I know that you said it was
underfunded, but it is about £25 million of taxpayers' money
over five years. Did you have it evaluated? Do we know whether
it did any good, and where are those people now?
Professor Eyre: Yes, we know that
it was endlessly evaluated. Basically, when a student joined NAGTY,
their trajectory was that they would go on to one of the leading
universities. In the exit survey of 18-year-old students moving
forward, it was the case not only for NAGTY students but for the
33,000 students from the lowest possible socio-economic backgrounds.
That is social mobility in action. I am not suggesting that is
in any way in conflict with what Sue has just said, because this
is not an either/or situation. It is not that you have good provision
outside school or good provision inside school. What you have
is integrated provision, with good provision in school that is
supplemented and enhanced by out-of-school provision. Social mobility
happens when you have, as has occurred, a boy from inner-city
Salford sitting next to a boy from Eton, and after a couple of
sessions, he says to the tutor, "I'm as good as he is if
not better." That is how you change belief. In answer to
your question, 10 years ago when this Committee looked at highly
able children, one of the things it said was that the Government
had been through a period of time when they had been trying to
secure minimum competence, and now they were going to give greater
emphasis to excellence. I do not think that has necessarily been
borne out in the funding arrangements. It is rather sad that we
have had a national programme for 10 years, and at the end of
10 years we are still looking at rescue packages for a small minority
of students rather than at a more universal approach of catering
for and encouraging excellence in our schools. A more ambitious
ambition might be to try to achieve high levels of performance
across a wide range of domains for as many students as we can,
including those people who have traditionally not performed so
well in our system.
Q14 Mr Stuart: What are the
hallmarks of good in-school provision? Do you want to pick up
that question, Joy?
Joy Blaker: If we are going to
look at good in-school provision, I will quote from one of our
head teachers, who said, "What is good for gifted and talented
is good for all children, but what is good for all children may
not necessarily be good enough for gifted and talented."
It is about opening up that whole opportunity for childrento
give them challenge, open-ended opportunity and mixed ability
working, where they can build from each other and develop a community
of inquiry and where they can build their knowledge one upon another,
facilitated by a teacher. That gives us the opportunity to gift-and-talent
spot, which is the beginning of the whole process. Once you start
that process, you're coming to something that's not elitist and
not looking at social mobility, social deprivation or whatever.
It's looking at the issues that are really important within the
classroom: what can that child do and what are they really capable
Q15 Mr Stuart: Can you tell
us what leading teachers add, as opposed to gifted and talented
Joy Blaker: Can I give you the
Rotherham model. We have co-ordinators who have the strategic
role within a school and are generally part of the senior leadership
team. They look at issues, such as the cohort, and champion the
cause of the gifted and talented, whereas a leading teacher, as
far as we're concerned, is someone who develops innovative practice
within their classroom and is seeking out and researching different
aspects of education and pedagogies so that they can share it
within their own school and across a learning community or an
authority. That is a really important capacity-building way forward.
Q16 Mr Stuart: You spoke as
if elitism was fundamentally a bad thing, which seems to me to
cut across this whole agenda and is a further sign of the group-think
that I would certainly not want to see. Some schools were reluctant
even to return data on gifted and talented pupils in the termly
census. Were the criteria for identifying pupils clear enough
or was the anti-elitism component so strong in so many schools
that they would not even play with the idea of helping people
who are particularly gifted?
Joy Blaker: I think there are
two aspects to that. Schools are very accountablethey feel
the responsibility; they feel particularly that identifying children
at a young age may make them accountable and that they may be
setting them up for failure in the future. We need to work against
that, because there needs to be an inclusive element, to say,
"We are strong in our identification procedures." There
is that need to develop identification among the teaching staff.
Q17 Mr Stuart: Does anyone
else want to comment on that? Is there a cultural problem here?
Richard Gould: Going back to post-16,
which is important because that's the time when students are beginning
to contemplate whether they want to go on to university and which
university to go to, there hasn't been a register and identification
at post-16. We visit lots of colleges all over Britain, and without
doubt there is the claim of elitismit hasn't been accepted
as mainstream. In the vast majority of post-16 colleges, and more
than 50% of students doing A-levels do so at a sixth form college
or FE college, there is an important gap that needs to be addressed.
Q18 Mr Stuart: Is there a
prejudice that needs to be challenged? It is alleged that some
children who are perfectly capable are dissuaded from applying
to the top universities because of anti-elitism. Is that true,
do you think?
Richard Gould: It's a very mixed
picture, but certainly that's true in certain schools and colleges,
Q19 Mr Stuart: How could that
Denise Yates: Just to follow through
on that, there are two other issues that you've not taken into
consideration. One is that many teachers aren't confident about
the G&T word, don't know how to identify it and are frightened
of talking to parents about it for risk of putting their head
above the parapet. The other is that they're frightened that parents
will ask them to do something about it if the child is identified
as gifted and talented. That is the bigger issue and it needs
to be addressed by all of us.
Sue Mordecai: There is also an
issue that is phase-related, because a lot of head teachers of
the early years at Key Stage 1 felt uncomfortable about giving
a title and a label when the cognitive development of children
is uneven at that age: that's one aspect. The other aspect is
that, again, NACE members would see it being much widerat
20%because looking at the top 5% in art, maths and physics,
you can have a profile of about 20%. Other schoolsthe 164
grammar schools for examplewould say that, under the criteria,
all their pupils could be gifted and talented. For some, the word
"gifted" has certainly got in the way, which is probably
why the Welsh Assembly has adopted "more able and talented",
and there doesn't seem to be the elitism or the philosophical
problem in Wales, as there has been in England.
Professor Eyre: There is a peculiarly
English dimension to this around people feeling uncomfortable
with the notion of identification. I agree with my colleagues
entirely, which is to say that the younger the student, the less
firm any kind of judgment might be about how they will perform
at a later date. One difficulty with identification, particularly
identification of younger children, is that once a cohort is identified
and additional provision is made for them, those who are not identified
are less likely to perform well, even if they had the aptitude,
because they are not accessing the opportunities. The cohort approach,
as it is called in the literature, has inherent structural problems.
Hence the schools that are most successful, particularly in the
secondary sector, but also across the board, in catering for the
needs of these gifted and talented students are the ones that
look at the provision that they make and are really focused on
what makes an outstanding learner, what characteristics we are
looking for and how we make that happen in our schools and classrooms
in terms of expectations. The question of who is or is not is
a secondary issue, which will reveal itself over time, so students
begin to reveal what they are capable of doing. When we were at
NAGTY, we were asked to look at some of the best practice in schools
in the country. We selected a group of schools, which were called
ambassador schools, and have gone on to take forward through SSAT
some of the leading-edge work. It is really interesting that there
wasn't one model in those schoolsand some had no identification
at allbut they did have outstanding practice and very satisfied,
happy parents and very high performers. It is not axiomatic that
because you identify a cohort, by whatever means, you are necessarily
going to have the kind of provision that you are looking for.
Q20 Mr Stuart: Deborah, I
suppose that you're saying that one size does not fit all but,
in general, do you think that the designation was a mistakethe
gifted and talented tagand we would be better not tagging
people but worrying more about broad provision?
Professor Eyre: That is my view.
It is a very complex area and the problem is that, for some students,
being identified as gifted and talented is what liberates them
to perform. We had students in NAGTY who, once they had been identified
on a national scheme, completely changed their self-image, their
perception and that of their parents and teachers. There are some
positives with labelling, but there are also some negatives, so
we have to look at it in the round. The conclusion that has been
drawn elsewhere is that, on the in-school provision, the main
focus should be on securing high-quality provision, in terms of
high expectations of all students in all areas and very clear
monitoring of the progression of individual students right across
the piece. In many ways, it is not just that the most able students
somehow go on and succeed and others don'twhat actually
happens is that part of this is about some students who just fall
away. In the international research, for example, the evidence
suggests that if you are identified at five, you are unlikely
to be identified statistically at 16. Why is that and what does
it mean about identification? There are some hugely problematic
areas with identification and, therefore, the judgment is, can
you still have the relentless focus on helping people to achieve
highly by a focus on high expectations coupled with progress reviews
and still get to the same place, as opposed to the kind of baby
Einstein theory of being born entirely different from the rest
of the species? Research shows that that is sometimes a bit of
a burden for people. Certainly, the NAGTY students felt that they
didn't mind being labelled as gifted and talented, as long as
we were all clear that that just meant that they might have the
capacity to do well if they worked hard. It was not Willy Wonka's
golden ticket to success. In the States, particularly, they have
had a lot of problems with their gifted and talented programmes
creating the kind of sense that, if I'm labelled as gifted, it
must all turn out, whereas in the Asian countries, where they
focus very strongly on the ethic that if you work at it, you will
succeed, giftedness is the end point. If people stick with something
and get to the point of high performance, that is giftedness.
In the kind of desultory way that one does as an academic, I have
been looking at when the term "giftedness" is used.
Outside education, it is most often used in people's obituariesit
is a retrospective view where your peer group deems you to have
achieved in a particular way, which means that you excelled.
Q21 Chairman: Deborah, you
never answered the question that I threw in in the middle about
whether you evaluated what happened to your gifted and talented
Professor Eyre: We set up a longitudinal
study to evaluate what happened to our gifted and talented students.
We evaluated for the duration of NAGTY, after which, of course,
the data were transferred across to the subsequent providers.
My understanding is that that did not occur. The lack of research
is a problematic area for us. We know that in other parts of education,
things such as the childhood study from the London institute have
been particularly influential in helping us to understand what
really happens, and to unpick the myth from the reality. We are
still at a point, after 10 years, where we have had a lot of experimentation
and a fair bit of novelty but not necessarily the longitudinal
evidence that will help to tell us what really works. We gathered
a lot of data during the NAGTY years to try to understand that
better, but there is no substitute for longitudinal studies.
Chairman: But the longitudinal study
Denise Yates: We hear from parents
what has happened to the NAGTY students, and in universities across
the country, in different socio-economic classes, these children
have chosen to go to university or chosen a course because of
the NAGTY courses. When NAGTY went, they themselves set up a website
called NAGTY Forever, which gets upward of 3,000 posts a month.
Q22 Annette Brooke: I wonder whether
you could help me a little. Despite all the questions we have
had so far, I still do not really know how we are defining "gifted
and talented". I understand Deborah's point, and I can empathise
with the point that perhaps outcomes would be the easiest way
to do it. Could you just explain this simply? If you have a child
gifted in music, art or dance, there would be fairly straightforward
settings and criteria, but I really cannot come to grips with
the idea that a particular school should just take a percentage.
Can you comment on that?
Professor Eyre: One of the difficulties
with gifted and talented is that there is no universal, internationally
recognised definition, so you decide on your definition and identify
according to it. In essence, there are two different ways in which
you can define. The first is around existing performance. In other
words, those who are performing at a level that is significantly
in advance of their peer groupa five-year-old who is doing
things that are normally expected of a nine-year-oldare
identified. Another methodology is to use psychometric tests to
try to identify ability and aptitude which may or may not currently
be realised. Most identification systems use a combination of
the two. However, there are other methodologies. There are teachers
nominating and parents nominating, but research evidence suggests
that that can be of variable quality. What is kind of clear is
that if you are identifying according to performance, the opportunities
that people have had make a big difference to how well they perform.
To take an obvious example, if you had the perfect violin teacher,
you are likely to be a better violinist than if you have just
been messing around at home. It is the same with schooling: the
school that you go to makes a big difference. Performance is a
reliable piece of evidence to some extent, but it is strongly
influenced not just by opportunities but also by family support
and background. Aptitude is equally controversial in terms of
whether or not it is possible to measure potential. Again, there
was much debate about thatas with creativity. Some people
think if you sit a test, they will know if you are creative; others
think that the nature of creativity is such that you can't measure
it accurately. In terms of who is gifted, in some people and in
some instances you know it when you see italthough not
in all instances by any means. That is why identification in the
entire field across the last 50 years has been a hugely problematic
area, and why the field of gifted and talented education has kind
of gone through three paradigms, which are loosely historical.
The first model relates to the unique individual who is completely
different from the rest of us. We do not see that very oftenif
you spot one on the tube, you'd know it. That is the sort of psycho-medical
model that is very much linked to IQ testing and so on. The second
model is much more about the fact that some people are not the
same, but have certain things in common, so we put them in a cohort.
That is very much based on the US post-1970ish kind of idea. There
is masses of research on the effects of thatpositive and
negative. The more 20th-century approach suggests that perhaps
the routes to expertise might be more open to more people and
that we should perhaps focus more on the conditions that make
it happen and less on the psychological profile.
Sue Mordecai: I agree with a lot
of what Deborah has said, but very often the issue is not about
the teachers knowing whether or not a child is very, very bright;
it is what they do with the child. The issue is about looking
at some of the characteristics. One of my favourite characteristics
is the child who can deal with ambiguity and cognitive confusion.
Some of the children who underachieve do so because they are on
a diet of questions and the answers, rather than one in which
they have to delve into their mind and explore a pit of cognitive
confusion, where they actually have to think and be challenged.
The issue within the schools is how can children reveal their
abilities unless they are given the opportunities to do so? It
comes back to giving them those challenges. But it is very much
a case of the teacher saying, "I've got a bright childhelp!"
Q23 Ms Buck: Apologies if
you've covered thisI was attending another Committee meeting.
What do we know about the extent to which children are categorised
or defined as gifted and talented according to different types
of school? Do we have comparative data on percentages of children
who are defined as gifted and talented in relation to particular
socio-economic backgrounds, or faith schools compared with maintained
schools, academies or whatever? What is the range?
Sue Mordecai: I would say it's
very ad hoc. That is one of the issues. If you consider the matter,
it is easier to look at it regionally rather than nationally.
So if I represented the London regions, we actually have London
data, so we can have a look. It will vary from anything from 5%
to 30%, so it's very variable.
Q24 Ms Buck: Paint me a picture
of the variations. Does it incline towards a very positive effort
to define children as gifted and talented from within schools
and more challenging backgrounds, which would make sense, or are
gifted and talented designations over-represented in your high
Sue Mordecai: No, it is very much
a mixed picture[Interruption.]
Chairman: There is a Division, so we
shall suspend the sitting. I urge colleagues to get back very
Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.
Chairman: Karen, I think you were in
charge when we finished.
Q25 Ms Buck: I think Sue was
in mid-response. As I was voting, I was reflecting that there
must be some trend analysis. If not, where is the debate going
on about providing consistency or monitoring the levels of consistency
Sue Mordecai: The very fact that
schools were asked to identify the top 5 to 10% in each school
meant it had to be a relative term, because what is 5 to 10% in
one school is different from what it is in another school. I suppose
it gave a bottom line from which to start asking the questions.
The data should raise the questions you want to ask. There is
an emerging pattern where people are getting more consistent and
more confident. We have moved beyond the identification and are
looking much more at the curriculum of opportunity and the provision
for those students. I agree with Deborah that it is about the
day-in, day-out provision, but it is also about the enrichment
and extension that they get. It must be seen inherently as a part
of, not apart from, the whole school improvement agenda.
Q26 Ms Buck: Just one last
point on whether the 5 to 10% is consistent. Perhaps I misunderstood.
Sue Mordecai: There is an element
Q27 Ms Buck: Did one of you
refer to 30%?
Sue Mordecai: I said up to 20%.
Ms Buck: How does that sit with the 5
Sue Mordecai: I was saying that
the 5 to 10% was the guidance from the Government. NACE, the organisation
that I represent, would say that students are not gifted and talented
across the board. If you take the top 1, 2 or even 5% in physics,
the arts and modern foreign languages, a large school would end
up with a profile of about 20% of children being designated in
the more able category.
Q28 Ms Buck: There are cohorts
of 5 to 10% of pupils from each school. Do we know anything about
the differences between the cohorts from different schools? What
kind of variation are you getting in the nature of pupils who
are being classified as gifted and talented?
Chairman: Sue and Deborah are both nodding.
We'll start with Sue.
Sue Mordecai: It's like anything.
There is as much variation between schools as within schools.
It depends on the nature of the school. Again, a number of characteristics
define the people identified across schools. When the students
are brought together on enrichment activities, they have a lot
in common. The identification has got much more sophisticated.
Some other interesting issues are emerging. The "Student
Voice" research we have done at NACE has shown gender issues,
for example. When we have asked boys whether they are comfortable
being identified as gifted, they have no problem. When you ask
girls, they say that they are not, but that they work hard.
Q29 Ms Buck: That's interesting
because my experience of pupils in tough schools is that boys
will run from being designated as gifted and talented because
it is potentially problematic. Girls find it much easier, because
the fundamental gender element, which allows girls these days
to be intellectually confident, does not apply to boys.
Professor Eyre: One of the difficulties
about this sort of stop-go approach that we have had is that there
have been various different sorts of initiative.
Q30 Chairman: You are changing
your description. Just now you said that Government policy is
incoherent and inconsistent. Now you are saying that it's stop-go.
Professor Eyre: Well, it's the
same thing. I am sorry, you are correct. The two are not mutually
Chairman: Deborah, I am being mischievous.
Certain people in the public gallery were not present when you
made the original comment.
Professor Eyre: Right. One of
the difficulties is that you don't have a data set that you can
follow for any length of time. During the period that we were
monitoring students who were put forward by their schools for
admission to NAGTY, we could tell you something about that cohort
of students. More broadly, one of the difficulties that seems
to have emerged is that because not all schools put their students
forward for the national database, the data is incomplete. Sue
may well be right that identification has become more sophisticated,
at least in some places, although the Ofsted work that was done
just before Christmas suggests that in some places we are going
backwards rather than forwards, but in 2007 schools definitely
took different views about the proportion of students they considered
to be among their gifted. They also took different views about
whether, in order to be designated gifted, you had to be good
at everything across the board or outstanding at something. In
schools in inner-city areas, there was still a disproportionate
number of students from wealthier families appearing in the cohort,
even though they were in a school that was broadly disadvantaged.
You are right that both genders have some difficulty with the
whole concept unless it is presented positively in school. The
savvy student, regardless of gender, will duck it, and if necessary
underperform to avoid being in the cohort. There are strong cultural
issues, such as it's not cool to be bright.
Chairman: I have to keep us on track.
Annette, do you want to come back?
Q31 Annette Brooke: Sorry,
I took us down that route, but it has been helpful. I'd like two
people to answer this question. What are the main achievements
of the national academy at Warwick from an insider's and an outsider's
point of view?
Professor Eyre: I think I'd say
that the main achievement for the national academy was that we
set down the models and templates that have provided for a variety
of activities in future. In particular, we came to understand
far more about what secondary-school age gifted and talented students
in particular needed in terms of effective educational provision,
and how they function in the educational world. As I said, to
begin with we had a remit only for out-of-school activities, and
in terms of the achievements there I think we evolved an effective
pedagogy for out-of-school provision, which could enhance school
provision, so it had characteristics to the way in which it worked.
We then mobilised providers to provide that, and adopted a sort
of managed market approach to try to stimulate providers to create
that sort of provision because that was not there in the past.
It is easy to forget that the first time we were asked to work
with universities, they were universally hostile to the idea,
saying that they did not usually work with schools. There has
been a lot of difference, and NAGTY was not the only part of that
widening participation and activities. None the less there was
mobilisation of provision. We created role models and a catalyst
with the student academy to explore what was possible with those
very bright students, and what they told us and what they did
astounded everyone. On the in-school agenda, which we held for
the last three years of our period, we set expectations and offered
some sector leadership to the local authorities. Working with
them, we created a regional delivery structure and found ways
to showcase best practice through the ambassador schools scheme,
and we created some innovation opportunities. At the end of NAGTYI
looked back yesterday at the 2007 annual reportwe commissioned
two big surveys through Guardian Professional's Headspace and
MORI. Headspace was a head teachers' survey into which we put
a question, and we found that 46% of heads felt their provision
for gifted and talented had improved over that period. In the
MORI poll, 64% of classroom teachers in secondary schools, and
56% of primary teachers, felt their provision had improved. We
provided some advocacy for G&T and some sector leadership.
We provided a kind of catalyst. We developed an entire pedagogy
for the out-of-hours integrated side of the provision, which led
to a community of young people who were actively engaged with
us. Our website had 4.6 million hits finally. But we made plenty
Q32 Annette Brooke: Now I
want a critique from the user side.
Richard Gould: There are certainly
some positives. Raising the national profile for gifted and talented
was a great success and gave all those agencies such as mine that
had been doing some work a focal point on where to meet and where
to raise issues. A workable website as the central place where
anyone involved in gifted and talented could gobe it a
student, a local authority person or a teacherwas important.
It was also important for something like gifted and talented to
be based at a well respected research-based university. In my
opinion, that's been a problem over the past three years. The
division of the academy into a student part, a professional part
and a research part was a good way of dividing up the workload,
too. I should like to stress the positives. Perhaps someone else
wants to talk about other issues.
Denise Yates: I've already spoken
about the positives, so I'll leave it there. One of the things
that we were most excited about was the prospect of the gifted
and talented agenda moving down to a younger age. In a recent
survey, some 87% of parents have had their children identified
as gifted and talented by the age of 10. So we wanted more provision
at a younger age. That was the only bit of the equation that NAGTY
was starting to work on but was missing. I remember saying to
the best value review that was done at the time, "Don't throw
the baby out with the bath water, but let's have some good examples
of what can be done with the younger age."
Q33 Annette Brooke: We move
on in time. Deborah has given some indication about why the national
academy was closed. We move on to excellence hubs. Perhaps Richard
can tell us something about these. Are they built on what the
national academy did, what do they offer and how many children
Richard Gould: Ahead of excellence
hubs came regional partnerships in the same nine areas in England.
Excellence hubs were not really integrated: they were a bit of
an add-on and this created quite a lot of difficulties, particularly
for the userthe student, the teacherwho had to go
to three different places: the young, gifted and talented website,
the regional partnerships and the excellence hubs. It was confusing
for people to find what to do without having a central place.
Excellence hubs provision is mixed. What goes on in the everyday
classroom in terms of the standard of teaching has moved on enormously
in some schools. What goes on at university in terms of the quality
of the teaching is very mixed. As a result, when students went
to university, they sometimes had a wonderful experience and sometimes
it was a turn-off. There was, and continues to be, a big problem
in the quality of provision that takes place at the universities.
Q34 Annette Brooke: If I could
just tighten the question slightly, have excellence hubs taken
this forwards or backwards?
Joy Blaker: There could be very
patchy provision across the country, but in our opinion in the
Yorkshire and Humber region, it has been a very positive experience.
That is probably because the regional partnership was very strong
from the beginning of Excellence in Cities, and that has developed
over the past 10 years. Because it has worked very closely with
the excellence hubs and there has been integrated provision and
a feeding backwards and forwards of information and a lot of opportunity
for our children in the region, we feel that that is a very strong
aspect of our provision.
Q35 Annette Brooke: Finally,
there has been some suggestion that direct funding might be withdrawn
from the excellence hubs. Would they continue if the direct funding
were taken away?
Denise Yates: The short answer
to that is no. I believe that a lot of excellence hubs are doing
their best to see what they can do if funding is withdrawn, but
the short answer is no, they will not continue.
Chairman: That leads us nicely to the
Q36 Mr Chaytor: What I find
difficult to understand is how the policy can move forward if
there is no agreed definition of what constitutes a gifted and
Professor Eyre: The way that other
countries deal with that is by agreeing a sense of what you want
the system to achieve. For example, how would you know if you
were being successful? How would the system know that it was successful?
That might be specified in terms of outcomes rather than inputs:
for example, getting more people performing highly in the way
that we want to see them perform. I am not just talking about
getting good exam results, although that is an integral part of
it, but developing a kind of learning behaviour that is associated
with high levels of expertise. That might sound esoteric but it
is not. It is important that a good mathematician is not just
somebody who can pass a maths A-level. It is someone who thinks
like a mathematician. Part of what advanced provision in schools
is about is making historians or mathematicians or whatever. It
is about engaging with the subject domain and not just passing
the test, although passing the test is important.
Q37 Mr Chaytor: If I could
just take that up, it is now 2010 and there are people in the
Department for Children, Schools and Families beavering away,
trying to decide what they are going to do with the pot of money
they have got for the next few years. If you are suggesting that
they should design a system that is based on outcomes, is it outcomes
now? Will they evaluate the nation's mathematicians now or will
projections appear? I just do not understand what the criteria
Professor Eyre: You could do this
in different ways. For example, at the moment I am working with
Saudi Arabia, which has instituted an approach to nurturing giftedness
and creativity. Among other things, it involves the creation of
an advanced supplementary curriculum that floats above the curriculum.
It is more demanding and made available in particular kinds of
ways. It has also instituted a very targeted programme that is
focused on its teachers, and not on generic teaching skills. It
is specifically looking at high-level performance within subject
domains, even in the primary age range, and considering what it
means to excel in a particular subject area as a primary age student.
It has also instituted work that tries to engage parents more
actively, both in how to support their child in their education
and how, at home, they can nurture the characteristics that are
associated with giftedness and creativity. So it's not like it's
Q38 Mr Chaytor: So you are
saying that it is really about building support for parents, encouraging
and enabling parents to give support, and giving professional
help to teachers to allow greater flexibility and variation in
Professor Eyre: Yes, absolutely.
I also think that at the moment we don't systematise this in this
country. Another thing they are doing in Saudi Arabia is providing
incentivisation through creating a form of teacher who is considered
to be particularly outstanding at nurturing high performance.
Equally, schools get recognition if they are particularly outstanding
at nurturing high performance.
Q39 Mr Chaytor: That would
come through in our Ofsted reporting.
Professor Eyre: But in this country,
the TDA does a survey every year to look at how well students
are prepared to begin teaching. It asks lots of questions about
how confident they feel about behaviour management and all kinds
of things, but it does not ask how confident they feel about dealing
with high-ability students.
Sue Mordecai: On future funding,
I think that there have been too many gifted and talented initiatives
and they have been apart from mainstream education. We need greater
alignment and synergy with organisations such as the National
Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics. Rather than
create something new, we need to see what is already out there
and how we can bring it together. The LAGT co-ordinators in some
areas have been successful. Where they haven't been successful,
they have not been given the clout or the funding to give support
at a more local level.
Chairman: What was that acronym, just
Sue Mordecai: Local Authority
Gifted and Talented co-ordinators. They have not been part of
the school improvement agenda, although over the past year or
so, personnel from the National Strategies have valiantly tried
to bring that into the school improvement agenda.
Q40 Chairman: They're only
going to be around for another year aren't they?
Sue Mordecai: Well, that's it.
Just as you start to get things right, they seem to disappear,
but there you go.
Chairman: Ah. Denise.
Denise Yates: I just want to talk
about it from the front line. We can't duck this issue. It might
be difficultit might be impossiblebut we shouldn't
duck it. Last September, the NAGC put a questionnaire online that
parents could fill in. It told them, although not definitely,
whether their child might be gifted. Since last September, 4,323
parents have filled that in on behalf of their children. That
shows that there is a great deal of impetus to get this right.
People are looking at this to see how we can do it. Some schools
are very good at this, as we have said. Better schools seem to
be scrapping the special needs and gifted and talented agendas
and coming up with a personalised learning agenda that gives every
child an individual education plan. If that took place, we wouldn't
need to worry about whether a child was on the SEN register or
whether they were gifted and talented because the provision would
be appropriate for the needs of the child.
Q41 Mr Chaytor: It puzzles
me that everyone seems to be critical of the succession of different
initiatives, which I can understand, everyone seems to agree that
it has to be based in schools, there is no dissent over the need
to improve teachers' professional expertise, everyone thinks that
there needs to be active professional advice from outside, such
as specialist mathematics teaching, when that seems to be exactly
what the Government are doing. Do those things not underlie the
changes in policy? Why is there this mismatch?
Sue Mordecai: Because, working
directly with schools, I think there is still a strong accountability
model through Ofsted about getting up to five A*s. While you have
that very strong accountability model, it is very difficult.
Q42 Mr Chaytor: But the current
Bill, with the school report card, the changes to Ofsted and the
school inspection framework, is part of that change of direction.
It seems to be what you are arguing for.
Sue Mordecai: No, again it could
be seen as a form of accountability model. If you have the report
card and the pupil guarantee, it will be very hard for some heads,
particularly with very advantaged, articulate parents. They say
that head teachers spend 90% of their time with 5% of their children
or parents. It is about all children. We have to be careful in
looking at where there is too much accountability and not enough
development of the excellence that is there and more effective
dissemination of it.
Professor Eyre: I have been reading
HMI reports since about the mid-'60s, and all of them have said
that teachers find it very difficult to challenge the highest
attainers, the most able studentswhatever terminology you
like to use. A key enduring factor is that it takes good teachers
to get to that very high level of challengeit is not an
easy thing to doso one piece of work definitely needs to
be about how teachers can be helped to achieve that more effectively,
working through subject organisations, through other routes and
so on. The heart of students' engagement is through schoolI
agree with youbut one of the things that we have learned
very much from NAGTY and from other experiences is that, in the
21st century, there are a lot of independent, autonomous learners
learning all over the place. We have new technology. As one 13-year-old
boy said to me once, "I have been interested in the second
world war since I was about five. We're about to do it in year
nine and the teacher thinks that I don't know anything about it
yet, but I'm probably much more expert than they are." When
you learn is no longer constrained by the school. These are the
most able learners. They are the ones who are most adept at learning,
and they will use the new technology. We have said, and I want
to reiterate this, that there should be integrated provisionnot
just in-school provision but out-of-school provision. There are
certain particularly challenging things that you can do in an
out-of-school environment that you cannot do in school. It is
not realistic to ask schools to carry the whole burden, and, if
we do, we won't get outstanding performers. It is like asking
your local sports teacher to do the same kind of work as a coach
for some premier football club. It is just not fair.
Q43 Chairman: Haven't we missed
the boat, in the sense that this was a great fashion and fad,
was it not, around about the time that new Labour came into government?
Obviously it was favoured by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair,
and Andrew Adonis, but then we saw it gradually dwindling. Was
that because of a lack of enthusiasm from the Department and Ministers,
or was it seen off by the teaching unions? What is your analysis
of where the resistance to all of this has come from?
Professor Eyre: I think there
are a number of factors in all of that. Obviously, there were
some political drivers behind the Tony Blair-Andrew Adonis kind
of agenda. With the dismantling of the assisted places scheme,
there was a political need to demonstrate that the state sector
was doing more for its most able students. Having said that, I
think it was a laudable aim, and there was a serious attempt to
try to achieve it. In my view, where things have gone rather awry
is in the two areas where there have been a variety of different
kinds of initiatives, none of which has been allowed to develop
for the kind of time that is necessary to give sustainability.
Secondly, we failed to integrate this into the whole school improvement
agenda and other structural agendas. It should be a matter of
course that when you ask how a school is doing in any particular
wayany characteristic, subject area, progression or anything
elseyou should be asking what is happening to the whole
cohort of students. The acid test is obviously at the extremes:
how well is the school dealing with those who can go furthest,
and how well is it doing with those who are struggling? For gifted
and talented, up until nowthis is an opportunity to embed
it more thoroughly in a mainstream waythere has been a
kind of lip service, but we know that, culturally, there is still
a lack of enthusiasm for it in some schools. I think the Ofsted
report that was done in the autumn said that the 26 schools that
were looked at thought that it was important but not a priority.
If it is not a priority, it is because somebody else is indicating
what the priorities might be, and they are not indicating that
this is one.
Denise Yates: I would like to
return to the previous question. We recently did a survey of parents,
and 55% of them said that the biggest priority for the Government
to tackle at the moment is more training for teachers. While we
wait for this nirvana to be reached, there will be a lot of parents
who have children in schools where the performance of gifted and
talented isn't so good. We need to preserve the out-of-school
activity, so thatas Deborah saidparents from poor
areas are mixing with those from more affluent areas. Last year,
we ran a family weekendwe do so every yearand we
had 550 parents and 550 children come along. The one thing they
said to us was that it is wonderful to be able to book online
and go to something that isn't school related. Ideally, school
would be perfect. Let's have something in place before that day
Q44 Mr Chaytor: Is the logic
of that that the amount of money per child spent on those who
are defined as gifted and talentedhowever they are definedshould
be greater than the amount of money per child spent on those in
Denise Yates: No. As I said before,
this is an equal opportunity issue.
Q45 Mr Chaytor: So the budget
should be equally distributed per capita according to the child's
ability, or the definition of it.
Denise Yates: Sometimes gifted
and talented children have been the poor relation, but that does
mean that we take very seriously the fact that money should be
spent on gifted and talented.
Sue Mordecai: We need to look
at how we spend the money more effectively. You asked about why
it has gone off the boil. I come back to the fact that there are
too many things going onthat is why it has gone off the
boil. We need to refocus. For example, is there a way that an
outstanding school could be a mentor to another school? There
are models that have worked, but there are so many models out
there that we need to step back and say, "Where has there
been the most effective use of people's time? Where do we need
to refocus? Where is it having an impact?" We need to really
look at some of the outstanding work that is there. We must absolutely
be clear that this must not go off the national agenda. They are
our greatest natural resource; we must keep this on the agenda.
Q46 Ms Buck: I just wondered
what evidence there wasI am not saying this scepticallyin
the specialist schools programme and education action zones that
successful schools mentoring others produced any differences in
outcome. Was that done and monitored?
Joy Blaker: In our local authority,
we have champion schools that are cross-phase schoolsprimary
and secondaryworking together to develop practice in looking
at the needs of a child from five to 19, and how we can develop
excellent practice. Those schools, in combination with leading
teachers, are having a really powerful effect upon other schools
within the authority, and sharing that practice. To go back to
Denise's point about master classes and opportunities for children,
we have 400 children every week coming to master classes across
the authority. In many cases, on a Saturday morning, parents queue
up with their children to bring them to that kind of provision.
Q47 Ms Buck: I was not challenging
whether it worked; I was merely interested in whether it has been
extensively trialled. It was very much part of the EAZ programme,
but I was really interested to know what evidence there is of
the difference it might have had on outcomes.
Chairman: Everyone must be brief now,
because we are winding up. We have the next session with the Minister.
Richard Gould: Very sporadic.
We ran a conference in the eastern region for high-performing
specialist schools, which are now called lead schools. Even that
change of name was symptomatic. There have been so many changes
in the last six months. You go to a meeting one week and hear
something that is actually very different from what happened the
week before. But the quality of what those schools could offer,
even though they had all had the same title bestowed on them,
was very mixedfrom excellent to, I shall use the phrase,
useless. They had someone who was very low down the hierarchy
within their school, who had sole responsibility for putting out
the message for gifted and talented. They were one year off from
being a newly qualified teacher and they had one hour a week to
do the work. I worry about it being delegated to schools to do
that job without having the lead from the national government
setting it as an absolute priority. That point was made by heads
in the Ofsted report, and I agree with it strongly. My final point
is that that is why we continue to have a huge amount of underachievement
among the most able students. Every report that comes out shows
dramatic underachievement by a very large group of that cohort.
Professor Eyre: My first point
is that if we want to put the reliance on sharing best practice,
as it were, we need to be clear that the schools we are drawing
attention to really do have best practice. My second point is
that the evidence shows that some can and some can't make a different
to other schools. Being good yourself doesn't necessarily mean
you can explain to or nurture others. We need a very clear methodology
for how a school plays that role in relation to another.
Q48 Mr Chaytor: The Young
Gifted and Talented Learner Academy closes its doors on 12 February,
and the website is already being wound down. Does anyone regret
its passing? Has it served any useful purpose?
Sue Mordecai: No.
Chairman: No one else regret it? No.
Thank you very much. It has been a very good session. It is always
like this when there are five witnesses. It is all the Clerks'
faultI blame them entirelybut they were spoilt for
choice because there was so much talent around and we wanted to
have all of you. Please remain in contact with the Committee,
because there are questions that we didn't ask you that you should
have been asked, and there may be things you want to say to us
after reflecting on this over the next few hours and days. Thank
you again for your time.