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Gifted children drive gears up

NO schools will be allowed to avoid a Government drive to help gifted children, school standards minister Estelle Morris told MPs.

Appearing before the House of Commons Select Committee for Education and Employment, Ms Morris condemned "dire" exam results in many inner city schools and called for a culture change among teachers.

"We have given a very, very clear message to all teachers, no matter which school they teach in, that there is not enough work being done with gifted and talented children. Every school in this country has gifted and talented children not just schools in some areas. The minute you allow a school a cop-out, the danger is that the school will say we don't have gifted and talented children."

Responding to a report by the select committee on gifted children in April, Ms Morris announced 34 summer schools targeted at talented children, on subjects including Japanese, TV broadcasting and website design, and a pound;23,000 grant to the National Association for Gifted Children to pilot a mediation service for parents of able children and their schools.

These were only the first steps in the biggest drive to support able children that has ever been launched by a government, Ms Morris said. Schools taking part in the pound;45 million Excellence in Cities scheme were being asked to appoint co-ordinators for talented children and this would be a pilot for the introduction of similar co-ordinators in all schools.

The Government would also like schools to consider fast tracking for able pupils. Too often, she said, teachers made the excuse that fast tracking, for instance by moving pupils into higher aged classes, harmed their social skills, without considering the alienation caused by unchallenging classwork.

Ms Morris said the Government was also looking at teacher training and, although funding for training gifted pupil co-ordinators would be given only to Excellence in Cities schools from September, pledged that funds would be available to other schools in future.

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