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Statement on Most and More Able

April 2018

Gifted &Talented: a change of approach

In response to the recommendations in the Sutton Trust Report of July 2012 (“…abandoning the construct ‘gifted and talented’… the term G&T is flawed and that the brightest pupils have become a neglected group…”),we changed our school's approach.

The term ‘gifted’ has been replaced with ‘more able’ in any circumstances that those students need to be identified as a group. As Carol Dweck warns: being labelled ‘gifted’ can be the “kiss of death” to the learning dispositions and achievements of many students.

As the language and currency of ‘Learning to Learn’ and ‘Growth’ vs ‘Fixed’ mindset continues to be embedded and reinforced within the school, to stay in line with this ethos, we will not identify ‘G&T’ as a separate group within the school.

Students will no longer be informed (nor families) that they have been identified for their intelligence. Barry Hymer warns that “…praise of students’ intelligence can generate fear of failure, the avoidance of risks and self-doubt”.

We have moved away from the ‘entity’ theory of intelligence: i.e. that it is static, and move towards an ’incremental’ approach which will allow us the flexibility to re-assess who we consider to be our ‘more able’ students (according to a wider set of criteria) as they move up the school, not keeping to the same (mostly fixed) cohort based mainly on Year 7 NFER data and KS2 scaled scores. Students can thus be added to those being monitored for underachievement and targeted for intervention.

Students identified by departments as ‘talented’ in their subject (as distinct from across a range of subjects) will be monitored and nurtured within those departments, and not grouped together with the ‘more able’. Similarly, the ‘list’ of these students will be changeable as we review the data annually.’ This would also enable us to include the increasing number of students across the school whom we admit ‘in-year’.In response to the recommendations in the Sutton Trust Report of July 2012 (“…abandoning the construct ‘gifted and talented’… the term G&T is flawed and that the brightest pupils have become a neglected group…”), we changed our school’s approach.

Key points from the Lead Practitioners' presentation:

  • “From skills to disposition…”
  • “Focus on the expandability of students’ minds rather than their fixedness…”
  • “Create a culture of risk taking…”
  • “Promote a ‘learning culture’ rather than a ‘performance culture’…”
  • “Intelligence praise can undermine motivation and performance…”

In favour of a more subtle and sophisticated approach, Barry Hymer concludes: “We end up with ‘gifted’ students who avoid challenges, risk, uncertainty and lifelong learning, and opt instead for easy successes and validation through performance – the very opposite of what we intend.”

L. Airey 2018