Help for the gifted can benefit all

24th February 2006 at 00:00
John White's article "Divisive strategy of grooming the gifted" (TES, February 10) left me feeling amazed that an academic in his privileged position should begrudge gifted or talented children the best possible education.

As someone who is in daily contact with GT pupils in an disadvantaged area, I see at first hand the enormous success of the Department for Education and Skills GT initiative and the positive impact it has on the whole school community.

Because we manage the programme sensitively, there aren't "feelings of envy, resentment or personal inadequacy of the non-chosen", to which John White refers. On the contrary, we now have much higher aspirations for all pupils coupled with a sense of pride about GT pupils' achievements.

At this school the achievements of every child matter. This is not about treating all children the same, but taking account of every child's needs and life experiences. This includes our most able pupils, especially those who may be underachieving - the potentially awkward ones - and ensuring that they too reach their full potential.

Among these are children who may be disruptive, lack confidence or perfectionists unwilling to present their best efforts in case they are subjected to harsh criticism.

Making sound provision for the most able may in the past have been perceived by some as an additional burden or a divisive strategy. But out here in the real world, there is clear evidence that teachers increasingly regard the DfES GT agenda as an engine for creativity and whole-school improvement and a valuable test-bed for quality teaching for all pupils.

There is nothing divisive about that.

Ciaran Clerkin

Headteacher

Selwyn primary school

Cecil Road, London

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