Tuesday, 3 March 2009

It's been a while since my last entry and I don't really have any excuses. Still I've had some thoughts today and thought I'd better write them down...

Following the Birmingham South Area Network G&T meeting today, I have reflected on our current practice and what changes we should make to improve it. My first point is that, in our school, ‘Gifted and Talented’ should be a term that makes us think of pedagogy, not assessment. It is easy to get hung up on the debate on who exactly is gifted and talented, what % of the school may be gifted, what talents exist and the like. But for us we have rigorous assessment procedures, we know confidently where the children are in English and have greater confidence this year in maths. In addition, as INCERTS (our assessment system) becomes embedded, we will know with increasing confidence where the children are in all subjects.

So for us the key questions are: ‘what pedagogies do we need to extend the more able children?’ and secondly to that, ‘what impact will these strategies have on the on track and SEN children who are already making good progress?’

I would also suggest that we stop using the phrase ‘gifted an talented’ at Paganel for internal use, as it misleadingly takes us away from the fact that we need to use a range of pedagogies to engage our learners. The phrase ‘gifted and talented’ takes ownership away from the class teacher, when we need to be doing the very opposite. While we still need to be able to talk about ‘gifted and talented’ to external agencies, within Paganel we need to discuss the kind of pedagogies that are specifically designed to motivate and engage the higher achievers whilst at the same time including the rest of the children.

The classroom quality standards exemplify excellent classroom practice that I think would benefit all learners, not just the higher achievers – it would be interesting to see any research that shows the affect on lower and average achievers of taking an approach geared towards ‘gifted and talented’. My suspicions are that all benefit when the pedagogies used are in balance. I can imagine that children on the autistic spectrum would not benefit from having day after day of Bloom’s taxonomy higher order thinking thrust at them. (my colleague’s SEN group in Year 6 do not want to be evaluating and analyzing all day…).

From a leadership point of view the questions becomes: “How can we skill up teachers so that all groups are making good progress?” and “at what point do we need to intervene to make sure that all groups are making progress?”

Early days yet - we need to think on...

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