Headlines: December 11th, 2009

A new Ofsted report says programmes for gifted and talented pupils are not elitist. Inspectors say schools that ensure all students are suitably challenged find that all pupils benefit. The report does, however, raise doubts about the effectiveness of some provision.

Inspectors visited 26 schools in a survey designed to see how schools would respond to plans from the Department for Children, Schools and Families to switch the emphasis of provision for gifted and talented pupils from a national programme to schools delivering their own. The report says that while most o the schools recognised that improving provision for gifted and talented pupils was important, it was not their highest priority. They each had a policy for the pupils but many of these were generic and not sufficiently effective in improving performance.

Gifted and talented pupils in most schools said that they were either not asked for their views or that these were not taken into account when tasks and curriculum were planned. The level of challenge varied across lessons and some pupils asked for more challenging work. None of the schools had explained fully to parents the needs of their children or how to support them and in eight cases schools had not even informed pupils or parents that they were considered to be gifted or talented.

Patrick Leeson, Ofsted’s Director of Education and Care, said: “Gifted and talented pupils need to be stretched so they can develop and progress appropriately. Schools should focus on matching teaching to the individual learning needs of all pupils, including gifted and talented pupils. In that way the whole school will benefit.”