Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 28 May 2009

How can we make our children’s new school provide for them as gifted pupils? The head makes us feel pushy.

Hillary's Advice

Some parents of gifted and talented pupils argue that being pushy and a nuisance is the only way to way to get anything going. Despite some improvement in recent years, many schools are still not providing for their brightest pupils. They just don’t see it as important. And the national gifted and talented programme that was put in place has not been successful. It was originally based on summer schools, but now it offers online provision.

Try and avoid waving in the face of this new head all the wonderful things that your children’s previous school did. People are only human and that is bound to get up their nose. But be doggedly persistent and brilliantly persuasive in your arguments that they need extra help to stretch and stimulate them. Show documented evidence and make it clear you are not going to go away. That alone can often get a response.

In addition, be very clear about what sort of provision you are talking about. Is it more challenging work? Special lunchtime or after-school sessions? Or access to a gifted and talented network? If you make can specific suggestions, the school might be more inclined to do something.

If that doesn’t work, take it to one of the parent governors. And also track down who, in the local education authority, is responsible for gifted and talented children, and find out from them what local opportunities are available and what the school should be offering.