Catering for the cream

29th June 2001 at 01:00
Gifted and talented pupils in England can expect to be given an increasingly high profile, with the launch of a centre for gifted and talented youth expected before the end of next year. The Government will spend about pound;60 million in 20012 on special provision for gifted and talented children, much of it through the Excellence in Cities programme, which, from September, will operate in more than 400 primary schools and 1,000 secondaries.

The new schools standards minister Stephen Timms, in his first ministerial announcement at the awarding of an extra pound;1.5 million for the Yehudi Menuhin music school and the Royal Ballet School, said: "I encourage all schools to open up opportunities to gifted and talented children. This government is determined to develop talent and raise standards. That is why we will develop gifted and talented provision even further."

The new centre is inspired by the Johns Hopkins University Centre for Talented Youth, in Baltimore, Maryland, which carries out annual nationwide searches for the most able youngsters in the US. It is expected to concentrate initially on running university-based summer schools for particularly able 11-16s. The Government has also said it wants more "express sets" in schools to take key stage 3 tests and GCSEs early, and is to introduce "world class" tests in maths and problem-solving for nine and 13-year-olds.

The results of a government-commissioned study of provision for gifted and talented children in schools, carried out by a research team based at the National Foundation for Education Research and the Centre for Able Pupils at Westminster Institute of Education, part of Oxford Brookes University, is scheduled for publication later this year. It is expected to show that an increasing number of schools are giving a high priority to gifted and talented pupils.

One of the study's authors, Dr Felicity Fletcher-Campbell, says: "It is important that we look at what is being done for these children from day to day. Summer schools are fine, but they don't address the challenge of these children for the teacher in the classroom."

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