This G&T e-bulletin summarises the provision which schools will be expected to make concerning the pupil and parent guarantees

One of the new elements of national policy for gifted and talented education concerns the pupil and parent guarantees. These have been framed by the Secretary of State as key elements of ‘an education which combines universal entitlements for all – designed to lead to a broad curriculum and the best possible teaching – with personalised and targeted support which meets the particular needs of individual learners.’ (The Pupil and Parent Guarantees, Foreword, p3). This issue summarises the provision which schools will be expected to make. The next issue will focus on how schools can respond positively to the demands which the guarantees place on them as part of the ongoing national programme for gifted and talented education.

The new law sets out ambitions for both pupils and parents as part of a 21st Century school system:

For all pupils to go to a school where:

For parents:

a. there is good behaviour, strong discipline, order and safety;b. they are taught a broad, balanced and flexible curriculum and where they acquire skills for learning and life;c. they are taught in a way that meet their needs, where their progress is regularly checked and where particular needs are identified early and quickly addressed;d. they take part in sporting and cultural activities; and

e. their health and wellbeing are promoted, where they are able to express their views and where both they and their families are welcomed and valued.

a. for all parents to have opportunities to exercise choice with and on behalf of their children, and to have the information and support they need to help them do so;b. for there to be, for all parents, a home-school agreement outlining their responsibilities, and those of the school, for their children’s schooling;c. all parents to have opportunities to be engaged in their children’s learning and development, and to have the information and support they need to help them do so; and

d. all parents to have access to a variety of activities, facilities and services, including support and advice with regard to parenting.

The document sets out a series of entitlements as guarantees, which are framed to support these ambitions. The elements relating to gifted and talented do not appear to be regarded as new. The guarantees are framed to clarify the expectations relating to existing provision and to strengthen the home-school agreement relating to identified gifted and talented learners.

The relevant guarantees are:

Guarantee 3.10: That every pupil identified as gifted and talented receives written confirmation by their school of the extra challenge and support they will receive.

Guarantee 8.8: Parents receive written confirmation of the extra challenge and support their child will receive if they are identified as gifted and talented and a clear understanding of what they should do to help them.

The guarantees distinguish between what schools must do and what they should do.

Schools must inform parents and the pupil of their identification as G&T within one month of their inclusion with the termly school census. If they remain on the list then they must write annually to update parents. They must also inform parents in writing if the child is no longer identified as G&T in the school census.

What should this include?
Schools must inform the parent and pupil of the extra challenge and support their child will receive if they are identified as gifted and talented and a clear understanding of what they should do to help them.

The guidance indicates that the school need not provide an individual education plan unless the school ‘expressly wishes to use this approach’.

The notification given to parents should address the following elements of the Institutional Quality Standards for Gifted and Talented Education:

2. Effective provision in the classroom; enabling curriculum entitlement and choice5. Assessment for learning9. School ethos and pastoral care13. Engaging with the community, families and beyond; and

14. Learning beyond the classroom.

The governing body should follow the Standards as defined at entry level, unless there is a specific reason relating to the circumstances of the individual child concerned which makes it impracticable or inappropriate to follow them.

Headteachers should involve parents in planning the support their child will receive in the classroom and through extra-curricular activities. They should also discuss with them activities they could undertake at home that will further support their child’s development.

Clearly these guarantees need to be sensitively handled. At the very least they force schools to be clear about what they are trying to achieve with G&T. For leading teachers and others who promote G&T in the school, this presents opportunities to cement its position. However, the explicit focus on identification within the school census and a requirement to publish the extra challenge and support may also increase the pressure on school leadership in acting as gatekeepers to enrichment. There is a likelihood that, if mishandled, the guarantees will reinforce misguided expectations as to what G&T is actually for and give parents a hammer to hit the school with.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in March 2010

About the author: Ian Warwick is Senior Director of London Gifted & Talented, a branch of London Challenge. Matt Dickenson is Equalities and Achievement Director with London Gifted & Talented, leading the REAL Project (Realising Equality and Achievement for Learners).