Gifted and Talented

Parents are often most anxious about sending their child to a state school if the child is gifted and talented, or more able. There is a commonly held belief that state schools are not able adequately to stretch bright students, whereas independent schools are. This is certainly not always the case, and it worthwhile investigating provision for gifted and talented students.

gifted and talented

  • All comprehensive schools that are right for your child should have a programme for gifted and talented, or more able students.
  • Schools with good programmes for able students run lots of extra initiatives to inspire and challenge; for example, university visits, extra-curricular clubs, and opportunities for extension work.
  • Schools should have a clear idea of what a gifted and talented student should be able to achieve. They should be able to recognise academic excellence, and have a system understood by staff which enables more able students to be identified and supported.
  • Schools should have a system which specifically monitors the progress of gifted and talented students.
  • There should be a member of staff with responsibility for more able students.
  • Schools that get the best out of their gifted and talented students should have grades A* featuring frequently in their GCSE results and, if they have a 6th form, grades A at ‘A’ Level.
  • Schools should tailor a curriculum to the needs of gifted and talented students. For example, if a school sets or streams then top sets must be given an appropriately challenging curriculum. If a school has some mixed ability subjects, then there must be an effective target setting system and appropriate extension work.
  • A school with a good work ethos should celebrate high achieving students, and make them feel accepted by the whole student cohort. It is a cause for concern if a school has a culture where students feel embarrassed to be bright.
  • If a school has lots of high achieving students, it does not necessarily mean it will be the best school for a highly able child. Sometimes, schools with a small cohort of gifted students are able to give them greater attention.
  • Even if you do not consider your child to be more able, it is worth finding out about gifted and talented provision in schools which interest you. After all, it could be that your child turns out to be more able in later school life. Also, a school that celebrates the success of all  might be the one that is right for your child. It is also common that if more able students are challenged then the ethos of high standards rubs off on others too.

Further Information

Open Evening

In each subject area, ask to see examples of work by gifted and talented students. Ask to see the gifted and talented co-ordinator, or the member of staff who is responsible for more able students, and ask them about the programme on offer. Ask how the school identifies and monitors the progress of more able students.


A* grades should feature in the GCSE exam results and A grades in the ‘A’ Level results.


Ask to meet a more able student and ask them about their experiences.


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