Bright children in state schools are being failed by teachers who refuse to give them extra help for fear of promoting "elitism", a Government-backed report has found.Whoops! And government has spent so much money telling us all that it’s ‘poverty’ and ‘exclusion’ that was holding kids back. Now, it turns out it was lefty dogma after all…
A significant number of schools have failed to enter their most talented pupils in an official programme designed to push the very best children, it concluded.And helping them hold on to their legs as they do it? Step forward, teachers!
Labour's so-called Gifted and Talented scheme - launched in 1999 - was set up amid concerns that middle-class parents were abandoning the state sector for private schools.
It was designed to answer critics' claims that bright children struggle in the comprehensive system because they are dragged down by classmates.
But a study by ACL Consulting, commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, found fundamental opposition to the scheme among schools.Why not just find the teachers who are failing to do this, and sack them? Wouldn’t that resolve the situation adequately?
The findings suggest that many pupils may have been held back from achieving their potential as a result of a reluctance on the part of teachers to give them the opportunities the Government intended for them.
In the latest report, consultants tracked the impact of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, established by Warwick in 2002 to spearhead the scheme.It’s not a ‘development need’ if the government says to teachers: ‘Do this’, and the teachers say ‘Nah, bog off!’. It’s a sacking offence – or should be.
It said £4.75m was spent on the academy every year by the Government - the "same amount of money as a 1,100 pupil secondary school would receive annually". The unit received around £2m more in donations by the final year of its contact.
But the study said it failed to establish itself "as the key point of reference" for schools promoting the needs of talented children.
"It is interesting to speculate on the cause of this unwillingness," it said. "If it is because of a misunderstanding of the place of special support for gifted and talented young people - perhaps a confusion of 'elitism' with 'special needs' - then that is arguably not NAGTY's fault, however it would then indicate an important development need that many schools and their senior managers should look to address."
The report added that the academy offered little for youngsters who had great potential, but were performing below what they were capable of.
Margaret Morrissey, of the campaign group Parents Out Loud, said: "Parents tell me that they are very concerned the brightest children do not get enough attention and subsequently go backwards in ability.Working as intended there, I think, Ms Morrissey…
"Many brighter children are also used by teachers to help the less able pupils, and in some are even being used to take the lessons themselves.
"The only minority group the Government is interested in helping are the underachievers. They don't ever give the brightest kids the help they need.
"The best pupils then get bored and switch off. And if an 11-year-old switches off, they don't come back. You've lost them and they will be mediocre for the rest of their school lives."
And ‘brighter children are also used by teachers to help the less able pupils, and in some are even being used to take the lessons themselves, are they…? Even more evidence that some of them aren’t doing the jobs we pay them to do!
What are you waiting for, Ed Balls?
A DCSF spokesman said: "This is an evaluation of a historic institution which no longer exists - the Gifted and Talented programme has progressed significantly. The National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth was designed only for the top 5 percent of learners aged 11-19. Since September 2007, the new Young Gifted and Talented Learner Academy (YG&T) has been available for all learners identified as gifted and talented by their schools and colleges.‘Tractor production is up, comrades!’
"Schools are resoundingly on board. Our latest data shows that 95 percent of secondary schools and 78 percent of primary schools are identifying over 800,000 gifted and talented pupils.
"This is not elitism. It is about ensuring that all learners receive the challenge and support they need to reach their potential."