Able child coordinator Nik Lawrence spoke to G&T Update about his work.

Mayville High School in Southsea is a small, independent co-educational school that caters for pre-schoolers to age 16. The school has set up an ‘Able Child’ programme to offer ‘challenge, intellectual stimulation and an enriched curriculum’. Staff at Mayville believe that ‘the able child needs just as much support, guidance and encouragement as the less able’.

Nik Lawrence is a senior member of staff. Part of his job is to liaise with the school’s Learning Extension Unit ‘to ensure that we identify all gifted and talented pupils within our community and that they receive appropriate acknowledgement and extension’. Below, Nik offers some tips about working with more able pupils that he has developed from his own teaching experience. He offers these to his own colleagues as starting points for dialogue, discussion and action.

Things we know about G&T children

  • G&T children are children who in some aspect of potential/achievement are advanced beyond what we would expect of a child of that age.
  • School constitutes 17% of a child’s year: in bed = 33%; at home = 50%. What happens at home is crucial to the child’s development.
  • Year 7 are in their eleventh year of learning (which starts at birth).
  • You are not an educated person if you don’t know how to learn.
  • Thirty per cent of primary children already know what they are about to be taught.
  • Baroque music has been proven to stimulate alpha waves in the brain – this promotes thinking.
  • Parents and governors should be involved in helping to provide out of school activities for G&T children – such as a chess club, and they can help to mentor these children.
  • Drinking water is very important – we consist of 68% water. Drink to think!
  • Hallmarks of a good learning state: curiosity, interest, anticipation, challenge, alertness, motivation, mental and physical well-being.
  • Things we can do to help G&T children
  • ‘If I hear, I forget. If I see, I remember. If I do, I know.’ This phrase explains why it’s important to use a combination of visual, aural and kinaesthetic teaching styles in lessons and, where possible, to encourage pupils to be ‘hands on’.
  • Issue a topics list so that they can start thinking, researching and talking about topics before we teach them.
  • In each topic, establish a ‘must, should, could’ list to show them what to aim for.
  • We should try to end our lessons with a question mark, not a full stop, to leave them wanting more.
  • G&T children should be taught less, but learn more – they should be able to take greater charge of their learning.
  • Have a ‘challenges’ box in every classroom for extension work – which shouldn’t have more-of-the-same.
  • Produce an additional reading list from staff recommendations.

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Mayville’s definition of ‘gifted’ and ‘talented’ Gifted = brilliant at everything (3% of world population, IQ of 130+)

Talented = excel in one subject area.

The DfES’s definition of ‘gifted’ and ‘talented’ Gifted = students who achieve, or have the ability to achieve, significantly above average (compared with other students in their year group at their school) in one of the national curriculum subjects other than art, performing arts or physical education.

Talented = students who achieve, or have the ability to achieve, significantly above average in art, performing arts or physical education, compared with other students in their year group at their school.

Thus an individual student can be both ‘gifted’ and ‘talented’.