Young, gifted, talented - and from state schools

STATE school pupils make up most of the 11 to 16-year-olds who have won places at England's first Gifted and Talented Academy, and one in three is from an ethnic-minority background.

The pound;20 million academy, based at Warwick University, organised a talent search to find the 100 brightest children to attend a three-week summer school which starts on July 22.

A panel of academics from the university whittled down the applications from 520 on the basis of national tests scores, the American college entry test (the SAT), world-class tests and teacher recommendations.

A spokesman said pupils were chosen by intellectual ability alone. However, it is still unclear exactly how the judgments were made as all but two of the children that applied were in the top 1 per cent and therefore eligible to attend.

The spokesman said: "We have used these four mechanisms and in the future we will carry out an audit to see how good they are."

An early analysis of the pupils revealed that 39 are "non-white British". This includes Indian, Chinese, African-Carribean and mixed race but there is no further breakdown as yet. Sixteen of the 100 pupils are from private schools and the gender split is even.

Although the first year of the academy is funded by the Government, most parents will be expected to pay eventually. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, US, which is a partner with Warwick, charges $2.300 (pound;1,600).

There are concerns that only middle-class parents will be able to afford the fee. A Warwick University spokesman said there were no details about the social class of the teenagers who had been selected. However, 40 of the pupils are from deprived urban areas that are involved in the Excellence in Cities scheme.

The academy is part of ministers' plans to do away with "one-size-fits-all" schooling. Education Secretary Estelle Morris said last month that Britain would never reach its potential while being seen to be clever remained "an embarrassment".

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