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Brightest pupils given more chance to shine

INSPECTORS will report on how schools cater for gifted and talented children under plans to boost education for the brightest pupils.

Federations of schools will be encouraged to pool high-flyers to make up masterclass sets.

The proposals, laid out in a speech by education minister David Miliband, are part of the multi-million pound push to improve lessons for the most able.

He told a conference of teachers and co-ordinators for gifted and talent children that pupils should not have to go to private schools to be stretched: "We need to work to ensure that gifted and talented provision is not an add-on. That means every local authority reflecting this in its plans, every inspection covering it and every school thinking about how to cater for exceptional pupils.

"We will have succeeded when 'too clever by half' is no longer a particularly English insult."

His comments come as the national academy for gifted and talented youth at Warwick University begins the count down to its talent search, renamed Loc8or.

In January it will invite applications from the top 5 per cent of pupils in England to fill its second summer school programme. It will offer 900 places at five universities, including Warwick, York and Durham.

Last summer's residential pilot involving 100 children was free. No details have yet been released about fees for 2003. Warwick's partner in the programme Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, US, charges parents $2,300 (about pound;1,600) for its summer camp. An academy spokeswoman said: "Fee levels for the summer school will be published in due course. The academy will seek to ensure that no-one is deterred from participating in the summer schools by their financial circumstances."

The Government's Excellence in Cities initiative has gifted and talented programmes in more than 1,000 secondary schools and 500 primaries.

Some areas are more enthusiastic than others and the Office for Standards in Education found teachers were poor at identifying gifted and talented pupils. There is some confusion about how wide or restrictive the terms should be. The top 10 per cent of pupils in some schools would be in the bottom 10 per cent in others.

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