Tags: Classroom Teacher | Curriculum Manager | G&T Coordinator | G&T policy | G&T provision | Gifted & Talented | Professional update | Raising Achievement | Subject Leader | Teaching & Learning

The Gifted and Talented Education Unit at the DfES is led by former teacher Tim Dracup. He explains how the unit sees the future of G&T education.

The GTEU has been developing internally an updated vision statement for gifted and talented education, which is intended to capture where we are now and our direction of travel towards where we want to be by 2011.

There is much more work to be done on this. We particularly need to feed in the perspective of our core partners NAGTY, as well as those of our other key partners, before we have anything like a finished product.

However, we thought that readers of G&T Update might like this opportunity to see how our thinking is developing and, if they wish, give us their comments and suggestions.

Our vision for G&T education is consistent with the wider strategic direction for education set out in the DfES’s Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners. It fits with:

  • Every Child Matters and its five strands
  • personalised education – tailoring education to fit all learners’ needs
  • improving social mobility – narrowing the attainment gap between rich and poor
  • Staying Ahead – the DfES strategy that concentrates on direction and ‘system design’ while achieving delivery through its partners.

We define gifted and talented learners as:
Children and young people with one or more abilities developed to a level significantly ahead of their year group (or with the potential to develop those abilities).

There is a G&T population in every maintained school and college (and in the independent sector). This includes some 200,000 learners aged 11-19 in maintained schools who are eligible for NAGTY membership. The total population is probably around one million. The figure will be confirmed when we have the results of the Primary Schools Census next year.

The national G&T education programme

This programme observes a set of core principles. We believe that it must:

  • respond effectively to learners’ multiple abilities and to different levels of ability
  • provide a coherent, consistent approach across England and for learners throughout their education
  • focus on translating ability into attainment, especially for underachievers
  • recognise that ability is evenly distributed by gender, ethnic and socioeconomic background
  • take a holistic approach to learning, foregrounding improvements in classroom practice and securing complementary out-of-hours learning.

We want the national programme to deliver:

  • significant measurable improvements in the attainment/performance as well as the aspirations, motivation and self-esteem of G&T learners
  • relatively faster and higher rates of improvement for underachieving G&T learners
  • the fastest and highest rates of improvement for underachieving G&T learners from disadvantaged backgrounds, thus narrowing the ‘attainment gap’.

These outcomes will be achieved in large part by improving the quality of identification, provision and support – institutionally, locally, regionally
and nationally.

Measuring progress and outcomes

We will in future be able to measure progress towards these outcomes through:

  • data on attainment/performance within the national register of G&T learners
  • data on institutions achieving each level of the Institutional Quality Standard (and potentially the Classroom Quality Standard)
  • the performance indicators of partner and sub-contracting organisations.

To maximise achievement against our specified outcomes, we need to improve:

  • the service for customers (especially learners, parents and carers)
  • the service for educators at all levels and support for schools and colleges
  • the infrastructure providing support at national, regional and local authority levels and through institutional collaboration
  • strategic planning, policy development and delivery, including international collaboration
  • communications across the system to secure understanding and commitment amongst all stakeholders.

Where do we want to be by 2011?


  • As many G&T learners as possible to improve their attainment/performance, aspirations, motivation and self-esteem in line with our desired outcomes.
  • G&T learners to take greater control over their learning consistent with personalised education.
  • G&T learners to contribute actively to improving G&T education in their schools and colleges and more widely.
  • All schools and colleges to engage parents/ carers actively and consistently in the education of their G&T children and in the improvement of the G&T education they provide.


  • Have as many educators as possible at every level equipped to secure G&T education in line with the entry level of the institutional and classroom quality standards.
  • Each secondary school and each group of primary schools to have an expert teacher trained to lead continuous improvement of G&T education in line with the quality standards.
  • Have as many schools and colleges as possible achieving entry, improving and exemplary levels of the quality standards.
  • Develop and implement a coherent approach to G&T education within the 14-19 strategy that is consistent with the primary and secondary strategies, so extending the desired improvements to post-16 institutions.


  • Secure and support effective collaboration between schools to mutually improve their G&T education.
  • Secure the role of local authorities in improving G&T education and further improve their performance, concentrating on the least effective.
  • Build the capacity of local authorities by improving the support they receive from school collaborations of various kinds and from regional partnerships.
  • Secure the role of regional partnerships in enabling local authorities, universities and other regional partners to work collaboratively to deliver sufficient high-quality learning opportunities and support for educators and institutions.
  • Set in place an effective contracting agent that will support central government policy making, manage central services and contract with the full range of delivery partners.

Policy and strategy

  • Continue to improve the evidence base for policy making, drawing particularly on data from the national register, relevant high-quality research and international experience.
  • Improve our strategic planning capability, especially our capacity to monitor changes in the wider education environment and to ‘horizon-scan’.
  • Secure the commitments set out in the 2005 schools white paper and plot the next stage of development to inform bidding for the 2007 comprehensive spending review.
  • Improve international collaboration on G&T education in recognition of its global significance and the global nature of education development.
  • Continue to position G&T education as a laboratory for wider educational development, especially in relation to personalisation, parental engagement and student voice.


  • Effectively disseminate positive messages about G&T education and so win the hearts and minds of key opinion formers and stakeholder groups.
  • Effectively differentiate those messages for key stakeholder groups.
  • Secure clear and consistent delivery of those messages by all partners, with ministers centrally involved.

A possible future scenario

What will this mean for the learner? The following paragraphs illustrate one possible future scenario:

Alan is on his school’s G&T register, which is accessible to all parents and learners at the school. The staff keep the register under regular review, informed by termly data feeds from the National Register of G&T learners.

Alan’s education is carefully planned and monitored through a comprehensive e-portfolio. He and his tutor jointly plan, set targets and review his learning activities to ensure that they provide a coherent and suitably challenging learning experience.

Alan’s parents support him at home, through appropriate family-learning opportunities provided as part of the school’s extended hours provision. Alan’s teachers adopt a consistent and effective approach to classroom differentiation across all subjects, using the e-portfolio to inform their planning. Alan is in mixed-age classes and working with learners two years his senior in his strongest subjects. He can access online assessment opportunities whenever he is ready. Through his registration with NAGTY, Alan accesses a wide range of outreach and online learning opportunities, all of which are logged in his portfolio.

The national register of G&T learners

Data from the schools census on G&T populations from both primary and secondary schools, and institutional data (including progress against IQS) will be matched against all other data in the National Pupil Database (ie pupils’ attainment data and cognitive ability tests). This information will help to improve identification of G&T students, inform G&T provision, enable tracking of progress and feed into information for SIPs.

This article first appeared in Gifted & Talented Update – Jul 2006

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