Learning from teaching the gifted

1st September 2000 at 01:00
WE were delighted with the coverage of the East Sussex Children's University summer school for gifted and talented pupils (TES, August 11). We felt that the week was an extremely valuable experience for pupils and tutors alike.

We fully endorse the comments made in your leader column. A one-week summer school will raise the profile of highly able pupils - and the pupils will have had a lovely time - but it isn't nearly enough. For our purposes in East Sussex the true value of the project will only be measurable in terms of improved opportunities for all pupils back in their schools, through programmes of school-hours learning activities, provision for the special needs of this group of pupils and through increased confidence and enthusiasm on the part of teachers. Changing the attitude that suggests learning isn't cool is going to be a long process and consideration of the learning needs of the 95 per cent as well as the top 5per cent is crucial.

The summer school has certainly reminded those of us who taught on the project, and the pupils too, that learning can be an exciting and rewarding activity. It is vital that the enthusiasm and energy experienced by tutors and pupils alike on the Leonardo Project is also experienced by pupils of all abilities in order to ensure that learning isn't seen as an activity just for boffins. The lessons gained about allowing teachers to work creatively, and pupils to learn in different ways, are, we believe, transferable across the ability range.

It has been a privilege to work with a management group in East Sussex. We are all really looking forward to building on the experience over the next year - improving opportunities for all East Sussex pupils, not just a select few.

Anita Shefford

Out of school hours learning officer

County Hall

St Anne's Crescent, Lewes

East Sussex

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