G&T coordinator Samantha Wilkinson of King’s Wood School, Essex, explains how she has developed a PE programme for gifted and talented students

Last May my head of department asked me to take on the role of G&T coordinator in PE. We wanted to give it a higher profile within our school so that our most talented pupils were recognised and had help with training and school issues. Previously, we had simply listed the most talented pupils and passed the information to the G&T coordinator.

I started by seeing how other schools were running their programme. I visited the Plume School in Maldon and St Clere’s in Grays, both of which have very good, but very different, G&T programmes. I adapted ideas from both schools to suit our school’s needs. Our initial objective was to identify the pupils with talent in sport and categorise them into appropriate levels so we that we were able to cater for their needs.

  • sent a quick questionnaire to all pupils and used this information to decide from which pupils I needed further details. A second, more detailed questionnaire asked for days and times of training and the name of their club and/or coach. This information enabled me to decide at what levels pupils were working:
  • Level 1: Pupils who have represented their country, county or have shown exceptional performance in sport as agreed by the PE staff.
  • Level 2: Pupils who have shown excellent levels of performance in their sport, such as representing their district. Pupils who have shown excellent ability and performance in a number of sports or have represented the school in a majority of sports.
  • Level 3: Pupils who show potential in sport. These pupils will be overall ‘A’ grade pupils who have represented their school and show potential, as agreed by the PE staff.

Pupils who were not taking part in school sport a year ago are very keen since they have been put on the programme

The ‘exceptional performance’ category in Level 1 was for pupils in Years 7 and 8 who had not had the opportunity to attend county trials or join clubs. The progress of these pupils will be monitored to see if they realise their potential. We agreed all pupils’ levels as a department. This was to ensure fairness to all pupils as I was unsure of some pupils’ abilities and less knowledgeable in certain sports to be able to judge ability level, such as dance and football.

Now the programme is set up the pupils are aware of their level, how to improve and what they gain from being on this programme. We have balanced the programme between mentoring the most talented to ensure that they are coping with school and training and offering new opportunities to all pupils in the field of sport. In September I held an evening for the parents of talented pupils – we had a 75% turn out, which was very promising. They were told about the aims of the programme and we answered their questions.

Using mentors

The pupils on Level 1 benefit from having a mentor assigned to them. The mentor is a member of staff with whom they would not normally come into contact. For example, the male performers have female mentors and vice versa and, where possible, teachers that are not from the PE department.

The role of the mentor is to meet with the pupil once each half term and to briefly discuss how they are getting on with school and sporting commitments. This mentor is there at any time for the pupil. The mentor can also come to me or deal with any issue directly. Additionally, each Level 1 pupil has an individual education plan. This holds information about training schedules and issues such as attendance.

Level 2 pupils meet their mentor termly. Level 3 pupils are monitored by me through their sporting achievements and are asked to inform me of any changes to these.

All pupils have the opportunity to attend coaching sessions at specialist facilities. There are six coaching activities throughout the year, including trampolining, scuba diving, rowing and archery. We have also offered pupils the chance to attend netball, football and basketball officials’ courses and will extend this to other sports. Year 10 and 11 pupils go to Essex University for an afternoon to see and use their sports science facilities.

Pupils are given the opportunity to go on at least one activity. The cost of all these trips is always a concern, but we have a very good G&T budget available in school which has paid for most of the activities. Luckily they have not been overly expensive to run. The trampolining course was £48 for 14 pupils for an hour’s coaching; the scuba diving is at a local diving club for two hours at a cost of £6. I wrote to local companies asking for sponsorship, but the response was poor. However we did get free tickets to a leisure centre for four pupils and some sporting memorabilia to raffle; all this helps with costs.

Progress so far
I have found that pupils who were not taking part in school sport a year ago are very keen since they have been put on the programme. I have also had pupils come up to me and ask why they are not on the register or why they are on their level. This has been a pleasure to see as it means the programme is working, and the pupils on it feel they are being recognised for their achievements in their sport.

King’s Wood School, Essex