Gifted and talented face further reform - yet again
The national programme for the education of gifted and talented children is set for a complete overhaul just two years after the last one.
Ministers are expected to announce a move away from the centrally managed system to one in which teachers run provision through schools.
The "refocus" - to be announced in a white paper next month - will bring additional support and training for staff, but there are concerns that provision could be sidelined.
CfBT Education Trust secured the Pounds 42 million contract to run the programme, Young Gifted and Talented, in 2007. It is designed for the top 10 per cent of pupils aged four to 19 and works via the internet and local "hubs" run through universities.
In 2002, Warwick University established the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, but academics did not rebid to run the programme in 2007. Its summer schools for the top 5 per cent of children were criticised as expensive and elitist (see box, below).
The new proposals for the education of gifted and talented children are contained in the 21st Century Schools white paper, to be published next month.
The City Gates scheme - part of CfBt's programme, which steers disadvantaged bright pupils in the Black Country, Manchester and London towards top universities - is expected to continue and possibly expand into other cities.
Denise Yates, chief executive of the National Association for Gifted Children, said she is worried provision could become too "parochial" if delivered regionally and children are only supported locally.
"The Government needs to make sure all schools are on board and teachers are trained properly," she said.
"City Gates hasn't been tested that much yet . but it has the potential to be an excellent programme. We are hoping there is still national provision for children aged four to 14."
Julie Fitzpatrick, chief executive of the National Association for Able Children in Education, said she expected provision to come under the broader policy of inclusion in the future. She wants the programme to continue to be organised regionally.
"Attention should be paid to catering for gifted and talented children in every lesson," she said.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "We are planning to announce significant reforms and improvements to the programme. More details will be announced later this spring."
The National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth has reacted angrily to criticism of its programme - and what it says are attempts by the CfBT Education Trust to replicate its work - since the academy opted not to bid to continue to run the national scheme for gifted and talented children (see main story).
It accused the CfBT of wasting money after the trust's announcement that it was conducting research into work already carried out by the academy - the best ways of identifying the top five per cent of gifted and talented children.
The academy was criticised in a recent government-commissioned report for lacking teacher support and its concentration on the elite 5 per cent of top pupils.