Breadth: another term explained in our reference guide for terms commonly used within gifted and talented education

Breadth can be interpreted in different ways in the context of G&T education. There is the breadth concerned with the opportunities provided within lessons, breadth within the whole curriculum offer, and breadth of experience outside of school/college.

Breadth within lessons
Consideration of breadth in lesson planning allows learners to experience additional material outside of the core offer and can lead to a more complete understanding of the topic being studied. Breadth enables pupils to:

  • compare and contrast
  • locate learning in a wider context
  • make connections between different areas of learning, using and applying skills learned.

The ‘must, should, could’ approach can be useful in this respect, encouraging more able learners to broaden their research, look at a wider range of sources, consider a bigger choice of task/response options. For example, in a Year 2 class learning about Victorian times and the schools of the day, one child had already visited the ‘virtual’ school used by the teacher to illustrate the main features of Victorian education and was familiar with much of the content. While classmates explored virtual classrooms, she was encouraged to draw up a chart comparing Victorian artefacts with modern equivalents, and comment on the relative merits of each.

Breadth within the curriculum
A broad curriculum means that learners have access to a wide range of options as they progress through their education, and avoid ‘specialising’ too early. It also increases the chances of students growing up to be ‘rounded’ and interesting individuals. As well as carefully balanced ‘options’ (within the secondary curriculum), a regular, varied and ongoing programme of ‘extra-curricular’ activities is a key component of good provision for gifted and talented students, enabling them to widen their experience and develop specific skills. Many of these can be provided at low cost, particularly if good use is made of the special interests and skills of teachers, governors, parents/grandparents and members of the local community. Such a programme might include:  competitions; visits and field trips; productions; visiting experts; interest groups – art, drama, dance, etc; sports training; book club; maths investigations; chess; philosophy group; language classes; enrichment days; and enterprise days and events. In adding breadth to the curriculum however, there can be a risk of overload. Be guided by pupils’ interest and curiosity and don’t expect them to work harder and longer than other children.

Breadth of experience outside school/college

Signposting students to other providers can be particularly important when students are talented in areas that are not particular strengths of the school; they need encouragement and support to develop their talents by other means. This may require flexibility in timetabling to allow for rehearsals, coaching and trials/auditions or exams, with appropriate strategies in place for catching up on course work missed as a result. Talented young people may also benefit from being directed/introduced to appropriate local and regional contacts within their chosen field, to enable them to widen their experience and develop specific skills.

Read A-Z of G&T education (4): Cognitive ability tests