Developing a gifted and talented strategy: lessons from the UK experience

Robin Attfield

This report looks at research issues relating to giftedness, in addition to the practical experience of schools in the UK 1999-2009.

Many schools tell parents that they aim to ‘realise the potential of all pupils’. What does this mean in practical terms for gifted pupils? How should we organise our finite resources at school level and, above all, what should we do in individual classrooms on a daily basis to meet the needs of these young people? This booklet seeks to answer these questions, drawing upon two main sources:

  • Research into issues relating to giftedness
  • The practical experience of schools in the UK, particularly in England, over the last decade.

A consideration of these sources endorses the view that there are key steps that schools need to think through in order to meet the needs of gifted and talented learners:

  1. Implementing effective procedures for identification based on clear definitions and an understanding of the characteristics of giftedness and talent.
  2. Agreeing a consistent whole-school approach in the form of a school policy using the agreed definitions and characteristics.
  3. Assigning responsibility to staff, including the appointment of a single designated coordinator for gifted and talented
  4. learners.
  5. Providing for giftedness and talent within the mainstream classroom (extension). Providing for giftedness and talent through additional experiences (enrichment).
  6. Coping with stereotypes and troubleshooting.

The booklet is organised around these steps. For each step, advice is provided based on a mix of academic research and practical experience from across the UK, and particularly from England.