The CfBT Education Trust manages the national gifted and talented strategy and is planning an online 'one-stop-shop' to provide routes to CPD, case study material, outreach events, resources etc
The CfBT's plans are ambitious and will help practitioners to access the rich and diverse services now available from a number of different sources. In the meantime however, we have collected together information to provide readers with an overview of what is on offer from different quarters – this month, national organisations.
NACE: National Association for Able Children in Education
www.nace.co.uk With the motto ‘Advancing teaching: inspiring able learners every day’, NACE is a registered charity, established 24 years ago to provide specialist advice, guidance and resources for teachers, pupils and local authorities on all aspects of gifted and talented education. The association has preserved its independence and operates without funding from government. It is managed by a national committee elected by members, and contributes to national developments by representatives sitting on steering groups (DfES and LondonGT) and working closely with the National Strategies and Oxford Brookes University. Membership: teachers, headteachers, leading teachers, school coordinators, governors, local authority advisers, inspectors, HMI, university and college staff, psychologists, writers, researchers (many internationally renowned), parents, governors, and educators from overseas. People join NACE whether they are just starting out or have years of experience; they join as whole schools, clusters or individuals for one, three or five years, to tap into and contribute to, the resources offered by the association. Services: NACE offers an integrated range of services based on agreed values and objectives, and focused on helping schools to achieve excellent leadership, teaching and learning:
- CPD for schools and local authorities, tailor-made to support strategic plans and delivered by quality-assured tutors and authors.
- Books, guidance and resources, including seminal works on G&T Education (from authors such as Professors Diane Montgomery, Deborah Eyre and Belle Wallace,) plus the award-winning books and software for children with partners Rising Stars UK and practical books for teachers.
- The self-evaluation framework, ‘The NACE Challenge Award’, has won wide acclaim; it is in 20% of schools in England and supports the English National Quality Standards. The Welsh Assembly Government has adopted this framework as its National Quality Standards.
- An annual journal and termly newsletter for members.
- The NACE Annual Conferences focus on finding solutions to the most difficult aspects of G&T education, stimulating debate and finding practical ways forward.
Affiliations: the European Council for High Ability (which has its administrative centre at the NACE National Office in Oxford); the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children; Rising Stars; Routledge; TASC; DWS Partnership for Day a Week School.
NAGC: National Association for Gifted Children
NAGC is a national charity covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. NAGC’s long-term objective is to ensure that appropriate provision is made for children to develop their gifts and talents to the maximum by providing for the social, emotional and intellectual needs of the whole family. The organisation currently supports approximately 10,000 children, young people and adults each year through its services. NAGC volunteers support families and professionals through a national network of local Branches and Explorers activity clubs. The NAGC also advises policy makers at national and local levels including the DfES, QCA, Ofsted and local authorities.
GIFT is a European agency that organises and conducts enrichment and extension courses for students from Year 1 to sixth form. It works in-school during term time, and also offers age-specific residential weekend courses, week-long summer and Easter schools both at home and abroad, and masterclass day courses around the country. GIFT grew out of an Essex LEA ‘Gifted’ initiative which ran from 1969-93: when funding ceased, a group of teachers decided to continue its work as part of GIFT and it now operates both country-wide and abroad, delivering the same service to schools but on an independent basis. Currently, over 600 different extension courses are offered, in a wide range of disciplines from archaeology to zoophysics. Participation in GIFT in-service teacher training courses merits the award of a Certificate in Gifted Education which constitutes the taught element of the Thirty Credit Certificate of Professional Practice (Gifted Education) accredited by the University of Surrey, Roehampton (see website for more details). GIFT has organised events for a number of organisations including NAGC, NACE and MENSA and directors have sat on a number of ‘gifted’ committees including SCAA, QCA, and the DfES Gifted and Talented Advisory Group.
CHI: The Support Society for Children of High Intelligence
CHI is a support organisation for intellectually gifted children and young people. The society’s mission is to act directly on behalf of individuals whose intelligence level is above the 98th percentile, with the aim of helping them realise their potential. CHI provides:
- consultancy services
- counselling and support for children and parents
- assessment of child’s intellectual abilities (including an IQ test which can be administered by parents)
- advice for parents on how to liaise with the authorities
- Inset and teacher training for schools, governing bodies and LAs
- collaboration with other organisations and DfES
- a thrice-yearly membership magazine.
MENSA is the ‘high IQ’ society founded in England in 1946 by Roland Berrill, a barrister, and Dr Lance Ware, a scientist and lawyer. They had the idea of forming a society for bright people, with the only qualification for membership being a high IQ. The original aims were, as they are today, to create a society that is non-political and free from all racial or religious distinctions. The society’s official objectives are to:
- identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity
- encourage research in the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence
- provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members
MENSA is a not-for-profit membership organisation which recruits from all over the world. Membership is restricted to the top 2% of the population (as measured by an IQ score of 132 or above) and includes people of all ages and from all walks of life, including well known names such as Sir Clive Sinclair who was chairman for 15 years and is now honorary president of British Mensa; Sylvia Herbert, who is also well known after taking part in the BBC Test the Nation shows; TV presenters Carol Vorderman and Sir Jimmy Savile; biologist Dr Jack Cohen; footballers Andy Harris (Leyton Orient) and Joey Beauchamp (Oxford United); Guinness World Record crossword compiler Roger Squires; Who Wants to be a Millionaire winner David Edwards; boxer Nicky Piper and swimmer Adrian Moorhouse. The society offers opportunities to enjoy the company of like-minded people and participate in a wide range of social and cultural activities. Local groups organise pub social evenings, quiz nights, games afternoons, walks, talks and cultural events. There is also a calendar of national and international events, such as British Mensa’s annual weekends at Cambridge, Malvern and the British Grand Prix. There are more than 100 special interest groups (SIGs) for members to join, covering all aspects of hobbies and interests, from rambling to rock music and science fiction to science fact. SIG activity can include newsletters, events and online forums. Teacher support packs have been developed by Mensa’s Gifted Child Consultant (firstname.lastname@example.org) and there is an established Gifted and Talented Support Programme, to assist educators in their work with gifted young people.
Website focus: the Birmingham Grid for Learning www.bgfl.org
How do we know if someone has particular talents? Is there a tendency for teachers to pick out those learners who are conventional high achievers, articulate and able to work independently? There is a danger that we overlook other skills because they are less obvious to the untrained eye or because we do not provide contexts in our classrooms where such talents can flourish. This is where the notion of multiple intelligences comes into play. Multiple Intelligence Theory was developed by Howard Gardner. He worked with people who were brain-damaged and looked at how different parts of the brain affected the learning process. He identified a number of different talents: language, numbers and patterns, ability to get on with others, ability to know oneself, visual, kinaesthetic, musical, awareness of the natural world. All human beings possess different intelligences in varying amounts. Each person has a unique intellectual composition and by identifying strengths we can provide more effectively for individuals. The multiple intelligences part of the Birmingham Grid for Learning site is useful for identifying different intelligences and can be used by primary or secondary pupils. The profiles it produces are useful to both learners and teachers:
- Learners who may not be succeeding at school can see where their talents lie: this can boost their confidence and help them choose suitable options at KS3/4 which play to their strengths. However, it may also give a clear indication of areas which are holding them back and this awareness can be the first step to improvement.
- The information produced can also help educators. If we know someone is strong in kinaesthetic areas, it may encourage us to find ways of cutting back on listening and writing and devising more practical, ‘learning by discovery’ activities. If an individual’s intrapersonal skills are weak then self-evaluation is going to be a struggle so we need to look at alternatives, perhaps team evaluations if interpersonal skills are stronger.
How to use the website to identify different intelligences
The Birmingham Grid for Learning has a good site for identifying intelligences and can be used by primary or secondary pupils. The address is long and convoluted: http://www2.bgfl.org/bgfl2/custom/resources_ftp/client_ftp/ks3/ict/multiple_int/what.cfm but the best way to find the site is to type in http://www.bgfl.org and then enter ‘multiple intelligences’ in the search box. There are several links which provide background information and lead you to the test itself. The text is in English but there is an audio version in Bengali, Chinese, Arabic, Somali and Urdu as well as in English for those not confident of their reading skills. Just click on the text to hear it read out loud. This is a useful facility because sometimes children may be labelled as having special needs when in fact they have outstanding abilities which are masked by limited language skills. The test is divided into five pages but is quick and simple to do. The 40 questions are phrased in child-friendly language and answers given via a multiple choice option (‘Click on the box that you most agree with’) ranging from ‘This is not like me at all’ to ‘I am always like this’.
It presents a profile as a pie chart which is easy to interpret