Towards a policy for able children

18th April 1997 at 01:00
This is not a draft policy, but an indication of the context. More detailed advice on policies is easily available from the organisations, or in Deborah Eyre's book.

* You cannot be neutral and assume that able children will make their own way. All children have the right to be stretched.

* If there is no school policy then each teacher will be improvising a private one on the hoof. So if the school wants a thought-out, uniform approach then there ought to be a policy.

* If the SEN policy, or the whole-school mission statement mentions able pupils, is anything happening to support it?

* Address the whole-school culture, so that whatever the policy, able pupils feel free to spread their wings without being put down either by their peers or by the narrowness of the school's own criteria for success.

* Whether able pupils are within the SENCO's overall remit or not, try to establish a separate co-ordinator. The SENCO already has a lot to do.

* When the topic comes up, try not to let the discussion come to a halt on the issue of which children are to be involved. Move on, aiming to make a start with the ones you can agree on.

* The curriculum is crowded; there are lots of other things to do. But there are established ways of "compacting" the curriculum, and there are techniques that are efficient in using resources.

* Ask the organisations. Find out if there is a named contact, or authority-wide co-ordinator, in the local authority support team.

* Avoid being drawn into the false assumption that able children are always and only the neat writers who are co-operative in class. Keep alert and look beyond the stereotype, at every child, in every area of classroom and extra-curricular life.

* Work with parents. Be open and accepting, and try not to add to the large number of parents who keep quiet about their children for fear of being thought "pushy".

* Remember the thousands of bright adults, overlooked at school, who besieged the Open University when it started.

Able children in Ordinary Schools by Deborah Eyre. David Fulton Organisations National Association for Special Educational Needs, NASEN House, 45 Amber Business Village, Amber Close, Amington, Tamworth, B77 4RP National Association for Gifted Children, Elder House, Milton Keynes MK9 1LR National Association for Able Children in Education, Room L6, Westminster College, Harcourt Hill, Oxford OX2 9AT

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