Teaching Able, Gifted and Talented Children: Strategies, Activities and Resources


Clive Tunnicliffe

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  • Education at SAGE

    SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets.

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    Find out more at: http://www.sagepub.co.uk/education


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    I would like to thank Jude Bowen and Amy Jarrold of Sage Publications for their unfailing support throughout the writing of this book. This expression of appreciation is more than the conventional vote of thanks for editorial assistance. It is in no small part due to their good humour, patience and professionalism that the text in its present form has come to publication and I owe them a genuine debt of gratitude for that.

    I would also like to thank my wife Patricia for the advice and support she gave me in seeing this project to completion. I could not have done it without her.

    About the Author

    Dr Clive Tunnicliffe has wide and successful experience as a teacher, adviser, trainer, inspector and manager. He first became a Local Authority adviser for gifted and talented children in 1990, a post he held for five years. From this post he moved to another authority where he performed a number of roles, including English inspector, national strategy manager in the primary and secondary phases and, eventually, senior manager leading on audit and organizational review. He has been a successful academic (completing a PhD in Shakespearean studies as a major state scholarship holder, and also an MA in Language and Literature in Education) and for a number of years was a senior A level examiner and moderator. He has also enjoyed great success as a trainer with a broad range of educational experience and interests, particularly relating to learning and creativity.

    Clive's work has covered all phases of the maintained sector from early years through to Further Education provision. He recently led an education, leisure and libraries department through its Ofsted inspection and the Annual Performance Assessment (APA) of Children's Services (being named employee of the year in the process). This focus on organizational audit and self-review led him to work as a member of a national steering group developing policy in this area. He has also worked with the UK government's academies programme in establishing two new secondary schools, and with the London Challenge as chair of a local School Improvement Partnership Board. In 2006 he became an accredited School Improvement Partner (SIP) within the New Relationship with Schools legislation, and worked in this capacity with schools in London and Essex.

    In 2007 Clive became a freelance educational consultant, and has worked both nationally and internationally in this capacity. He has extensive experience and expertise in both leading and delivering school improvement initiatives within the areas of continuing professional development, the leadership of teaching and learning and targeted support for the able, gifted and talented. In 2008–9 he was living and working in China where he gained further insight into the learning needs of the exceptionally able.

    How to Use This Book

    Researching this book made it abundantly clear that there is now a wealth of material freely available on the internet to anyone seeking to improve or update their knowledge and understanding of able, gifted and talented education. So much so, that one way to use this book is to turn immediately to the final section and use the bibliographical material provided to compile a personal – indeed a personalised – library of bookmarked special interest sites, electronic articles, government-sponsored downloads and e-learning modules sufficient to acquire either a working knowledge of the entire field or else an authoritative take on a particular area of current professional concern.

    As always, however, the problem for working teachers and other professionals is one of time. From this perspective alone the material gathered here seeks to offer a clear and relatively concise summary of an increasingly important area of educational provision for busy managers, project leaders, classroom practitioners and learning support staff. In a context in which significant emphasis is being placed on the need for schools to develop personalised pathways for all learners, there is still a clear need for an up-to-date overview of good practice and organisational opportunity in relation to able, gifted and talented (AG&T) learners.

    While the book is therefore unashamedly written to provide accessible guidelines for readers requiring a short-cut through current educational debates and national developments for the AG&T, its main purpose is not so much didactic as developmental. To this end, each chapter contains a range of prompts for professional development activities intended to be used by:

    • Individual readers as a way of embedding the advice provided into their own professional practice
    • AG&T coordinators, lead practitioners and professional development providers as a readily available source of material to engage colleagues in discussion about provision for more able learners in their own schools
    • School leaders as part of a structured programme of audit, self-review and organisational improvement focused on meeting the needs of all learners through raised challenge, differentiated learning and personalised provision.

    In this sense, the way to use this book is as a compendium of generic exemplar material and stimuli for promoting organisational reflection on the individualised needs of target schools, curriculum areas and teachers. Although the examples and activities provided aim to be of direct relevance to particular teaching and support contexts (i.e. they may be freely adopted and adapted for use in the classroom), they are primarily models of provision which must themselves be personalised to meet specialised subject and age-specific requirements. In this they provide models of approaches to teaching and learning which require the active professional understanding of teachers to make them applicable to their own situations.

    Chapter 1 considers the development of whole-school policy and the need to align policy development to the wider ethos of the school/setting and its identified (audited) areas for improvement.

    Chapter 2 goes on to examine how AG&T learners are perceived and defined within the school and its teaching and learning policy. It offers a range of activities to support schools in arriving at a consensus agreement with regard to terminology and the categorisation of able learners.

    Chapter 3 considers a wide range of identification procedures for AG&T youngsters. Again professional development activities are included to assist schools in arriving at identification mechanisms that match their own ethos and cohort profile.

    Chapter 4 focuses on the whole-school aspects of provision, including learning environment, cross-curricular planning and organisational support for the development of personalised learning.

    Chapter 5 explores aspects of classroom provision including the role of higher order thinking, differentiated planning, creative learning and personalisation. Models of suggested approaches are provided for individual guidance and to support professional development activity generally.

    Chapter 6 extends the concept of personalisation into the extra-curricular support provided for the more able learner and his/her parents. A range of audit strategies are suggested and opportunities provided to establish a developmental agenda for this area of the school's work.

    Appendix a number of the planning models and activities used throughout this book draw on a generic version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears specifically adapted for this purpose. The version used is set out in the Appendix.

    Throughout the chapters you will encounter the following icons:

    Chapter objectives
    Case study
    To think about
    Photocopiable pages

    NB: It should be noted that the acronym AG&T is used throughout to refer to the target group of learners. As Chapter 2 in particular will reveal, this is by no means an internationally accepted term and individual schools/settings may well decide on an alternative formulation better suited to local ethos and need. It goes without saying that what such youngsters are called is less important than the provision made to secure their entitlement as learners.

  • Appendix

    Goldilocks and the Three Bears

    The three bears lived in a house in the forest. There was a father bear, a mother bear and a baby bear. Mother bear was big enough but father bear was even bigger and more scary, especially when he showed his long sharp claws and huge fangs.

    In the bears' house there were three chairs. The biggest chair was father bear's. The smallest chair was baby bear's. There were also three bowls. There was a very big bowl for father bear, a smaller bowl for mother bear and a little bowl for baby bear. Upstairs there were three beds. Father bear had a great big bed. Mother bear had a smaller bed, and baby bear had a tiny little bed.

    One day, mother bear made some porridge for breakfast. She put it in the three bowls on the table. But the porridge was too hot to eat, so father bear said that they should go for a walk in the forest until it cooled down.

    A little girl called Goldilocks lived at the edge of the forest near to the bears' house. Her mother said that she was not allowed to go into the forest alone but that morning she decided to walk through the trees to find somewhere new to play. She saw the bears' house and wanted to see who lived there. She knocked at the door but no one answered. She pushed open the door and went inside.

    She was hungry so she tried a spoonful of father bear's porridge but it was still too hot. Then she ate some of mother bear's porridge but it was too salty. Then she tried some of baby bear's porridge and it was just right. So she gobbled it all up.

    Next she sat on father bear's chair but it was too high. She sat on mother bear's chair but it was too lumpy. Then she sat on baby bear's chair and it was just right. But Goldilocks was too heavy for the chair and it broke.

    After that she went upstairs. She was tired, so she lay on father bear's giant bed but it was too hard. Then she lay on mother bear's bed but it was too soft. Finally Goldilocks got into baby bear's bed and it was just right, so she closed her eyes and went to sleep.

    When the three bears came back from their walk in the forest father bear looked at his bowl and roared, ‘someone's been eating my porridge’. Mother bear looked at her bowl and added more calmly, ‘someone's been eating my porridge too’. Then baby bear cried, ‘someone's been eating my porridge and eaten it all up!’

    When they saw their chairs, father and mother bear could tell that someone had been sitting in them and father growled angrily showing his fierce teeth. But baby bear said tearfully, ‘someone's been sitting in my chair and broken it to pieces’.

    Rushing upstairs, father bear was furious. ‘Someone's been sleeping in my bed’, he snarled. ‘Someone's been sleeping in my bed too,’ said mother bear, more shocked than angry. But when baby bear gasped, ‘someone's been sleeping in my bed and she's still there’, all the bears howled in surprise, father bellowing loudest of all.

    All this noise woke Goldilocks and she was frightened to see the three bears staring at her with their mouths wide open. Without a word, she got out of bed and ran down the stairs, out of the house and back to her own house. Mother bear cleaned the bedroom and made some more porridge while father bear made baby bear a new chair. Goldilocks never came back and the three bears never saw her again.

    Useful Websites, Agencies and Associations

    Schools may wish to align themselves with (or direct parents towards) some of the following agencies concerned with promoting gifted and talented education:

    Brunel Able Children's Education (BACE) Centre

    Centre Director: Professor Valsa Koshy. Email: Valsa.Koshy@brunel.ac.uk

    Brunel Able Children's Education Centre

    Brunel University

    School of Sport and Education

    Halsbury Building (Room 102)



    UB8 3PH

    Tel: +44 (0)1895 267164. Fax: +44 (0)1895 269806

    BACE website: http://www.brunel.ac.uk/about/acad/sse/sseres/sseresearchcentres/bacehome

    The BACE Centre was launched in 1997 within the School of Education at Twickenham and undertakes research and provides evidence-based strategies for both policy-makers and practitioners. The BACE team contributes at national and international conferences and works with a large network of Local Authorities and schools, providing research-based strategies and systems for evaluating provision for gifted and talented students.

    The Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education

    East Block

    Kowloon Tong Education Services Centre

    19 Suffolk Rd

    Kowloon Tong

    Hong Kong

    Tel: +853 3698 4103. Fax: +852 3586 3445

    Email: academy@hkage.org.hk

    HKAGE website: http://hkage.org.hk/en/index.html

    The academy provides challenging learning opportunities for gifted students to enable them to stretch their potential in a wide range of specialist areas, including leadership, creativity, personal-social competence. All the courses are available ‘off site’, though school venues will not be uncommon. The website provides information and resources for students, parents and teachers.


    British Mensa Ltd

    St John's House

    St John's Square


    WV2 4AH

    Tel: +44 (0) 1902 772 771. Fax: +44 (0) 1902 392 500

    MENSA website: http://www.mensa.org.uk

    MENSA is a registered charity (No. 00971663) for people with a high IQ. It provides a range of activities, social networks and research opportunities for members. Its website offers support, IQ testing and mental challenges for adults and children.

    The National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE)

    Chief Executive: Julie Fitzpatrick

    NACE National Office

    PO Box 242

    Arnolds Way


    OX2 9FR

    Tel: +44 (0)1865 861879. Fax: +44 (0)1865 861880

    Email: info@nace.co.uk

    NACE website: http://www.nace.co.uk

    NACE is a registered charity (No. 327320) and is the UK's largest independent organisation supporting teachers, schools, local authorities and wider agencies in their work with AG&T learners. It has an extensive network of member schools and individual teachers throughout the UK, organises a wide range of conference and CPD opportunities, has developed (in conjunction with Oxford Brookes University) the NACE Challenge Award kitemark and self-review standard and publishes a wide range of resources for use in schools. NACE membership and services and publications can be accessed through its website.

    The National Association for Gifted Children


    Suite 14

    Challenge House

    Sherwood Drive


    Milton Keynes


    MK3 6DP

    Tel: +44 (0)845 450 0295. Fax: +44 (0)870 770 3219

    Email: amazingchildren@nagcbritain.org.uk

    Website: http://www.nagcbritain.org.uk

    The NAGC is a registered charity working on behalf of talented children and their families. Parents or organisations may join and a range of services are offered including counselling. It has a network of local branches that organise activities for children in the area. It has several publications for parents which may be accessed through the website.

    The National Society for the Gifted and Talented

    Membership Director: Emilia Musella

    National Society for the Gifted & Talented™

    River Plaza

    9 West Broad Street


    CT 06902–3788


    Tel: (800) 572 6748. Fax: (203) 399 5590

    Email: emusella@nsgt.org

    Website: http://www.nsgt.org

    NSGT is committed to acknowledging and supporting the needs of AG&T children and youth through recognition of their significant academic and artistic accomplishments and by providing access to educational resources and advanced learning opportunities directly related to their interests and talent areas.

    Ohio Association for Gifted Children

    501 Morrison Rd

    Suite 103





    Tel: +1 614 337 0386. Fax: +1 614 337 9286

    Website: http://www.oagc.com

    OAGC promotes and supports the development of gifted students through dissemination of information, advocacy on their behalf, encouragement of affiliate organisations, and promotes research and education for gifted children.

    Oxford Brookes University

    Westminster Institute of Education

    Harcourt Hill Campus



    OX2 9AT

    Tel: +44 (0)1865 488600

    Email: Ewioe@brookes.ac.uk

    Web: http://www.brookes.ac.uk/schools/education/rescon/cpdgifted/home.html

    OBU provides a wide range of information, resources, courses and professional development materials for AG&T.

    The Queensland Association for Gifted and Talented Children

    QAGTC Inc.

    PO Box 3246

    Stafford DC

    Queensland 4053

    282 Stafford Rd




    Tel: (07) 3352 4288. Fax: (07) 3352 4388

    Email: office@qagtc.org.au

    Website: http://www.qagtc.org.au

    QAGTC is an association for children, teachers/professionals and parents and offers a full range of support and advocacy services including educational training events, publications and membership services which may be accessed through the website.

    The Sutton Trust

    111 Upper Richmond Road



    SW15 2TJ

    Tel: +44 (0)20 8788 3223. Fax: 020 8788 3993

    Email: james.turner@suttontrust.com

    Website: http://www.suttontrust.com

    The Sutton Trust is particularly concerned with breaking the link between educational opportunities and family background. Its projects include independent/state school partnerships and university summer schools.

    World Council for Gifted and Talented Children


    World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, Inc.

    c/o The University of Winnipeg

    515 Portage Avenue



    Canada R3B 2E9

    Tel: 204 789 1421. Fax: 204 783 1188

    Email: headquarters@world-gifted.org

    Website: https://world-gifted.org/

    WCGTC is a worldwide non-profit organisation whose primary goal is to provide advocacy and support for gifted children. It organises The World Conference through a membership of educators, scholars, researchers, parents and educational institutions.

    Some Useful Forums, Blogs and Online Communities for AG&T

    American Gifted Education Blog


    Cogito – connecting young thinkers around the world (Johns Hopkins University)


    Edublogs – online communities for teachers and students


    Gifted families – a place to share ideas and insights from around the world


    Parents Centre on Department for Children, Schools and Families site UK


    Radiowaves global communications network for talented children


    Times Educational Supplement discussion boards (search for AG&T)


    United Kingdom National Strategies and Government Agencies

    CfBT Education Trust manages the Young Gifted and Talented programme excellence hubs established in nine English regions to provide a diverse range of outreach provision to gifted and talented learners including master classes, specialist subject activities and blended/online learning throughout and outside of the school year.


    Go to http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk and search for AG&T to select from an extensive range of guidance, resource information and e-learning modules compiled and promoted by The Department for Children Schools and Families.

    The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority website has guidance on teaching and assessing AG&T pupils.


    The Gifted and Talented area of the Standards Site outlines support strategies, identification issues and provides links to other agencies and NGOs supporting AG&T. http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/giftedandtalented/

    Teachernet provides the latest information and news related to AG&T learners.


    General Resources and Useful Websites

    The 21st Century Learning Initiative


    Aquila magazine (8–13 year olds)


    BBC Schools Online


    Bloom's Taxonomy and Learning Domains


    Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education (CASE) and Cognitive Acceleration through Maths Education (CAME)



    Creative Learning Journey site


    Critical and Creative Thinking


    Critical Thinking Community


    Critical Thinking Overview


    Critical Thinking Skills in Education and Life


    Gifted Students and the Socratic Method


    Home Learning and Learning Styles


    Independent Thinking and Multiple Intelligence Theory/questioning


    Kidsource site with summaries and links to AG&T resources and articles


    Leadership, human motovation & research programmes


    Learning and Thinking provision for G&T


    Learning Styles – http://About.com site


    Learning Styles BBC Wales Home Education, The Learning Gate


    Learning Styles inventory


    Multiverse: exploring diversity and achievement in the UK educational context


    New South Wales Association for Gifted and Talented Children Inc


    Post-16 G&T policy


    Queensland Gifted Education Site


    SAPERE, The Society for Advancing Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education


    Schools' Resources


    Schools site with discussion forum and information


    Socratic Questioning – Changing Minds site


    Socratic Questioning – Starting Point site


    Talented and Gifted Educational Resources


    Teaching Ideas for Primary Teachers


    Thinking Styles and Learning Styles CENGAGE Learning site


    Virtual Learning Environments – BECTA site and download


    Wise Ones: Nurturing High Potential


    Identification and Assessment – Useful Websites

    Creative Generation guidance on talent identification


    Creativity – what is it? QCA site


    Defining Giftedness – National Society for Giftedness & Talent site


    Defining Giftedness – Rhode Island Advocates for Gifted Education


    Definitions of gifted and talented – Hertfordshire Grid for Learning


    Definitions of giftedness and talent – National Literacy Trust site


    E-learning module on identification


    Giftedness and the gifted – identification checklists Kidsource site


    Innate Talent – Psychology Today


    Is every child gifted? Probably not – Psychology Today


    Talented performance: a Chinese model – Gifted Child Quarterly


    What is a gifted child? Definitions and links


    Who is gifted and talented? Standards Site definition


    World Class Tests for Gifted and Talented


    UK Government Publications and Downloads

    Classroom Quality Standards (CQS) guided resource is an online tool, to support self-evaluation and improvement in classroom provision, with guidance and exemplification.


    Developing school policy for AG&T

    http://www.nc.uk.net/gt/general/02_ wholeschool.htm

    Early Years Foundation Stage Pack


    Every Child Matters


    Excellence and Enjoyment: Learning and Teaching in the Primary Years


    Extended Services


    G&T wise resources


    Gifted and Talented Education: Guidance on Addressing Underachievement: Planning a Whole-School Approach (June 2009)


    Gifted and Talented Education: Guidance on Preventing Underachievement: A Focus on Exceptionally Able Pupils


    Search, using the reference ‘00066–2008BKT-EN’.

    Identifying gifted and talented learners – getting started

    London gifted and talented e-resources


    National Curriculum AG&T guidance



    National Quality Standards for Gifted and Talented Education


    New relationship with schools


    Ofsted interactive site on self-evaluation


    Personalised Learning – A Practical Guide (October 2008)


    Quality Standards (Institutional and Classroom)


    Raiseonline information


    Subject-specific teaching materials


    Welsh Quality Standards document and download

    Meeting the Challenge: Quality Standards in Education for More Able and Talented Pupils

    (May 2008), Welsh Assembly Government Circular 006/2008



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