Memorandum submitted by Joy Blaker, Rotherham
Metropolitan Borough Council
Mainstreaming through the Strategies.
Institutional and Classroom Quality Standards (because they have
enabled us to work closely with subject leaders on common ground).
The introduction of Leading Teachers
for Gifted and Talented.
A shared understanding within our team
that all we do should be cross-phase with emphasis on early intervention.
This is particularly important in the case of young exceptional
learners who often have social and educational needs that can
preclude them from accessing a `normal' education and set them
on a trail of isolation and/or poor attitudes and behaviours.
With the help of the Sutton Trust and later the DfES we have a
weekly class for such children from KS1 which has been evaluated
at different times through Brunel and Sheffield Hallam Universities
showing that teacher identification can be relied upon and that
early intervention of this nature can prove beneficial in supporting
children in mainstream education. But there is much more to be
done in this respect.
Funding that is not ring-fenced (with
changes of staff and other inconsistencies it becomes increasingly
difficult to see how the money is meeting its focus).
Removal of funding from the Excellence
Hubs, which in the Yorkshire/Humber region gives a strong unified
lead to University education and offers a variety of provision
open to all G&T students.
Lack of funding for G&T Leading Teachers,
which compares unfavourably with that given for Leading Teachers
in Literacy and Numeracy. (However, in our authority we have begun
some joint generic training and the LA are funding to some extent
the cover costs for the G&T LTs).
It seems to me that we are talking about two
different aspects of G&T education: high quality provision
for teenage gifted learners, and the process that initiates that
need involving raising teacher awareness and expertise in this
area. We ask for all teachers to identify +/-10% of their gifted
learners (academically ableor potentially so) and then
to look across their school population for those who would be
talented in any context in creative arts and sportswe cannot
specify a definite percentage for the latter.
My contention is that there is the same range
of potential in any school you visitwhat varies is the
amount of enrichment, high quality teaching and parental support
that has been offered. So asking for +/-10% of a school population
simply focuses the teachers' attention on how they can engage,
motivate and provide for their potentially more able learners
to ensure their bright creative minds are not overlooked in the
future. To focus this support on 14-19 students who live in deprived
areas is to offer something too late (hard-wiring within the brain
has already taken place) and to further isolate them in the opportunities
they are offered because they would just be socialising with their