Tags: G&T Coordinator | G&T provision | Gifted & Talented | Headteacher | Time Management

The results of the largest ever survey of the workload and support needs of G&T coordinators in secondary schools in England has recently been published.

The research was undertaken by the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth; over 900 G&T coordinators completed the summer term survey that was sent to the 3,395 secondary schools in England. The aim of the survey was to provide ‘a baseline national picture of coordinators’ professional context, roles and responsibilities.

Coordinators were asked to answer survey questions based on the amount of time they had spent on G&T related activities over the previous seven days prior to receiving the survey.

One of the most worrying results is that over half of coordinators who responded to the survey (53%) said that they received no non-contact time for their role, and G&T responsibilities were carried out in their own time.

‘I get no non-contact time for this role. There are plans to allocate 20 minutes per day for my G&T work in 2005-06’

‘Four hours were allocated in September, but then I had to take on extra teaching due to lack of staff in my department.’

At the same time 78% of respondents thought that it was reasonable to spend between one and four hours a week on their role – but during the week of work that the survey covered, the average amount of time spent on G&T was four- and-a-half hours. The survey highlights a clear discrepancy between the hours coordinators are willing to devote and the amount of time they are allocated to perform this role.

The greatest proportion of time (15.5%) was spent on development, monitoring and evaluation of school policy. The least amount of time (4.25%) was spent on working with learning mentors to identify and address the needs of disadvantaged pupils.

Significantly coordinators felt that they were most effectively supported in developing, monitoring and evaluating the school-based policy and in acting as a ‘champion’ for G&T pupils in the school. Coordinators spend significantly more time on activities when they feel most supported. Increasing the amount of non-contact time from one to two hours a week significantly increased the amount of time spent on G&T work.

High on coordinators’ wish lists was to have more non-contact time and the opportunity to learn from the practice of other G&T coordinators. But the majority of the time spent on the role was typically to do with school-based activities and work; outward looking activities involving coordinating with other schools, LEAs, universities or learning mentors were far more limited.

Responsibilities
Whilst nearly a third of coordinators (31.7%) had one or two areas of responsibility (in addition to teaching), nearly a fifth (19.1%) had an extraordinary five or more areas of additional formally allocated responsibility. This highlighted the fact that a large number of schools still didn’t have a designated G&T coordinator; in these cases the role most frequently fell to the deputy head.

‘I am only appointed for this year to fulfil this role on a temporary basis whilst a new deputy head is found.’

The survey also showed that those coordinators with more than two responsibilities in addition to teaching had a ‘significant negative effect on the amount of time devoted’ to the G&T role. Members of the SMT spent less time on the role than coordinators who were not members.

Training
Another worrying point is that nearly two fifths of coordinators (38%) had received no formal training for their role; but on the positive side 57.1% said that they had received some formal training for their role as G&T coordinator.

Consequently, findings show that those coordinators who received training are typically spending an average 62 minutes a week more on G&T than colleagues who received no training.

G&T coordinators also appear to be some of our most experienced teachers. Nearly half (48.8%) had been in teaching 18 years or more! But a third of all respondents had only had responsibility of G&T for one year or less.

Support
The survey also looked at how supported coordinators felt in their role. (‘Effective support’ was deemed to include: experience of being trained; offered advice; offered positive encouragement from the leadership of the school; time free of class contact.)

Coordinators felt most support in the development and implementation of policy work and in being school ‘champion’ for G&T pupils; they felt least supported in working with learning mentors and working with other schools and G&T colleagues outside school.

The survey also revealed that the more support coordinators felt in their role, the more time they spent on it.

Most commonly requested additional support was in the form of secretarial or administrative support.

‘The most needed support is secretarial as a huge amount of time is taken for “office type” tasks.’

‘In addition – biggest support would be a teaching assistant.’

Funding
‘There is no specific budget… says it all really (we are not in EiC).’

‘Funding most important in county schools – none is available.’

Nearly one fifth of respondents cited lack of support financially as one of their biggest headaches – this, despite the fact that coordinators were not specifically questioned on support that could be provided via additional funding.

The survey provides a fascinating snapshot of the work, role and responsibilities of G&T coordinators. It is planned that the survey will take place each year. At present, there are no plans to survey primary G&T coordinators.

You can download a PDF of survey results from www.nagty.ac.uk/about/media_room/research/gt_survey_results.aspx
Further information from Laura Mazzoli at [email protected]

This article first appeared in Gifted & Talented Update – Nov 2005

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