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Mike Fleetham Mike's Thinking Classroom Blog

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Who are the AGTs?

Got an interesting question last week:
"I'm have been part of a discussion about what is meant by gifted and talented and who should be on the list? I'm particularly interested in reading, writing and maths. Should every class be providing 2/3 names for these subjects? What if your top 2/3 writers are below national average? Equally what if you have 6/7 writers in a class, all significantly above average?"

My response:

Yes, this is an interesting and valuable discussion you’ve highlighted, and one in which process can be at least as important as product.

The way I’d tackle the issue may not be an option to you in your current context but I hope it helps you and your colleagues to further your dialogue. When working on similar issues with my schools I rewind and start with a totally generic description of AGT:

“Those pupils who do, or could do, something much better than most others”

From this “tabula rasa” we involve all stakeholders in making it school specific. Parents, students, teachers respond to:

  • What are our ‘somethings’? 
  • What does ‘much better mean’? 
  • Who are ‘most others’?

Messy. Diverse. Tricky.

But, order and themes do emerge and SLT generally knock it into a working, trial document.

So, we have a provisional set of criteria of who the AGT are. From this drops out what we are looking for and ‘spotting criteria’ Then we can bring our professional skills to bear on provision. And finally we are able to track and report on their progress. This process can be followed in departments or whole school. It’s revisited and altered in light of experience.

That’s easy to describe but harder to implement and sometimes very clear, imposed criteria can precede this approach.

Myself and colleagues who specialise in AGT provision have for some time been moving away from not only ‘choosing the AGTs’ for special intervention and ‘putting them on the register’ to an approach inspired by Deborah Eyre, namely to “Expect significantly more from significantly more pupils”; pitch to above the top of the class and provide support – rather than pitch just above the middle and provide 3 levels of differentiation.

Could say much more around this but hope that’s food for thought!

 

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