Whether you’re writing your first G&T policy or need to update your current one, what do you need to include? G&T Update editor Jane West explains

The key is recognition at all levels in each school that an effective G&T policy will require significant changes in the organisation, curriculum and perhaps culture of the school. As general rule, if the G&T policy is not having this degree of impact, it is probably not working.
Professor Michael Barber, head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit

What is a policy? One ‘size’ doesn’t fit all for a G&T policy, but there are common themes that will be useful to consider. – Writing a policy is not the starting point, but a midway point in process. Before starting on your policy, discuss with colleagues the reasons for needing one and agree on the aims and objectives.

– Your G&T policy is a management action plan and a mission statement all in one. It expresses the school’s aims for G&T pupils and describes how those aims will be met.

Why do I need a policy? – Your policy should challenge the myth that having a G&T programme is elitist and that gifted pupils will do well without extra help. The policy should ‘champion’ gifted pupils and their needs.

– Your policy clarifies for governors, staff, pupils and parents what G&T is and how your school will support these pupils; the policy is a roadmap, telling you where you are now and where you want to go, documenting your school’s progress.

What your policy should include – Key documents that will lead to development of an action plan – an overall strategy to embed G&T in your school. – Your school’s beliefs, values and learning ethos. – A specific statement about how this ethos can be achieved practically: what staff need to do and what pupils need to do. – How your school defines giftedness and talent (and what terms you are going to use with pupils, staff and parents). – Methods for identifying giftedness, talent, latent potential and underachievement: tests; verbal and non-verbal scores; self-, teacher-, parent- or peer-referral; and so on. – What systems will be put in place to organise the G&T policy (G&T coordinator; budget; resources; recording; link coordinators in each department; CPD and training needs for staff; networking with partners, cluster schools and the wider community; communicating information to governors, staff, pupils and parents; managing transition and use of information from other schools or key stages; and audit of current activities, with responsibilities). – How the G&T register will be compiled and used. – How pupils’ work and achievement of the school’s aims and objectives will be monitored and evaluated.

– How often will you review your policy.

The new ‘Management focus’ series will look at aspects of the G&T coordinator’s management work in school.

Your G&T cohort Check for a balance of gender, ethnicity and subject specialisms that reflect your school’s population. This will alert you to any groups or individuals who are being overlooked or underachieving.

Ask pupils to complete an ‘all about me’ questionnaire that lists their likes, dislikes, preferred learning styles and out-of-school aptitudes and activities.

The role of the G&T governor There is no statutory requirement to have a G&T governor. However, schools who have a governor whose responsibility is for G&T have found that their ‘critical friend’ helps deliver the programme more effectively. – A G&T governor raises the profile and status of the G&T programme among pupils, parents, colleagues and other schools in your area.

– A G&T governor can ensure that funds from the school budget are allocated to the G&T programme (where schools are not in an EiC programme).

The policy is a roadmap, telling you where you are now and where you want to go, documenting your school’s progress

The role of the G&T coordinator
As G&T coordinator you are the advocate and champion of G&T pupils. Ideally, the role should be within the senior management team and with additional non-contact time and management point(s) to reflect the responsibility of the role.

The role of teachers, HLTAs and TAs Support colleagues in providing differentiated activities and resources for G&T pupils: extension or enrichment activities; higher-order questioning; breadth, depth and pace.

Department/subject heads/coordinators need to discuss and agree with colleagues what shows giftedness in their subject. (NC levels of attainment give a broad idea but it is useful to collect examples of excellence from pupils’ work and develop departmental portfolios. This is particularly useful for NQTs and less experienced staff.)

The role of parents and carers Parents and carers should be encouraged to be involved in their child’s learning through open evenings, visits to the school and homework. You may wish to consider that both parents/carers and pupils sign a homework and behaviour agreement so everyone knows what is required of them.

The role of the LEA Ofsted’s LEA Framework 2004 – Support to Schools for Gifted and Talented Pupils states: ‘The LEA’s main tasks are: to provide guidance to schools in meeting pupils’ needs; to identify which schools need particular help, and to ensure that this is provided effectively; and, where appropriate, to support initiatives across LEAs. In addition, the LEA should ensure that individual pupils with particular talents receive the support they need in order to make progress’ (see www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications). Ideally, your LEA or region should be your first port of call when looking at examples of good practice, policy documents and, in particular, training.

Is your school at entry level, developing or exemplary?
The Gifted & Talented Education Unit (GTEU) at the DfES has published a checklist of quality standard indicators to help G&T coordinators assess the stage of provision in schools (see www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/giftedandtalented/strategyandstrands/Qualstan). – Entry: a baseline standard of practice, with scope for improvement. – Developing: the school is effective in meeting pupils’ needs but there is scope for reinforcing and progressing.

– Exemplary: indicates excellent practice, with scope for disseminating beyond the school.