The Gifted and Talented programme - Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents

Letter to the Chairman from Diana R Johnson MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools, Department for Children, Schools and Families

  On 1 February, when Jon Coles and I gave evidence to the Committee, we promised to write to you about the longitudinal study referred to by Professor Deborah Eyre. I would like to apologise that neither I nor my officials were able to answer your questions about that research.

  Following further investigation my officials have established that the longitudinal study that Professor Eyre referred to when giving evidence was as a series of studies and surveys of students enrolled in the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY)—both quantitative and qualitative—which were undertaken on a regular basis and the data triangulated to enable assessment of NAGTY. The outcomes were disseminated in occasional papers, academic journal articles, and academic and professional conferences.

  I attach one of NAGTY's occasional papers which contributed to the wider study.[9] As you will see the study was survey based and comprised a random sample of enrolled members of NAGTY. From the information gathered it is clear that NAGTY did not conduct a single longitudinal study that involved tracking the same students over a period of time.

  As you know, in 2007 the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth ended and the Department set up a new Learner Academy, run by CfBT. This was designed to provide a virtual web-based academy and to reach a much wider G&T community including young people in primary schools. The Department decided to focus the activity of the Learner Academy on the individual learners themselves, rather than wider research into G&T issues and therefore, when drawing up the contract for the Learner Academy, DCSF colleagues did not include a research dimension. As part of this, and given that the purpose of NAGTY's studies of learners was to trace the impact of the Student Academy which was closing in 2007, the Department did not ask CfBT to continue with the studies into participants in the NAGTY programme. The Department has however asked ACL to evaluate the impact of the CfBT Learner Academy

  My officials have contacted CfBT who have confirmed that they did receive the final reports and occasional papers produced by NAGTY, which they subsequently published on the YG&T website. They cannot trace having received any raw data in relation to NAGTY's research.

  My officials are also monitoring the progression of Gifted and Talented learners though the information they gather from schools via the school census. The new Ofsted framework also refers specifically to the need to evaluate how well gifted and talented pupils progress in relation to their starting point.

  As the Committee are aware, and as Jon mentioned when he gave evidence, the Department funded ACL Consulting to conduct an independent evaluation of NAGTY in October 2006. I attach a copy of the evaluation report.[10] It concluded (page 5) that:

    "NAGTY did become a UK centre for international expertise on gifted and talented education—we do not have sufficient evidence to say that it became the centre.

    The evidence does not in our view suggest that NAGTY established itself as the key point of reference for the English gifted and talented community. NAGTY assembled an effective research team which, for those in the know, produced some valuable work. The problems were that: relatively few people were "in the know"; the research team was open to criticism for being too close to NAGTY; and that some of the research it conducted did not appear to be directed at the "big issues" (at least as perceived by others) in gifted and talented education."

  Jon and I also agreed to confirm the targeted support funding allocations. As Jon explained when he gave evidence, schools will be receiving £250 funding for each of their gifted learners who are eligible for free school meals (FSM) or classified as looked after children. Using the latest school census data available, my officials will determine the number of FSM eligible gifted learners in Year 10. It is anticipated that schools will receive the funding, including supporting guidance, for each of those pupils through the School Standards Fund in May 2010.

  Finally, Jon and I offered the Committee a description of the G&T identification criteria, a copy of which my policy colleagues sent to your Clerk, Kenneth Fox, on 5 February 2010.[11]

March 2010

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