Guidelines for Gifted and Talented Pupils
Preamble: Willow Park Junior School recognises the importance of enabling all students to achieve their full potential. The School is committed to providing a stimulating learning environment which enables all children to progress towards achieving their potential.
Willow Park Junior prides itself on forming socially balanced young boys who remain curious and interested in school and become independent learners. Guiding pupils towards a Catholic, caring and tolerant adulthood is our aim; a life that will be fully lived and a life that will enrich our world, supporting those who are impoverished and require support. Willow pupils come to realise that their gifts and talents are to be utilised for a better society.
Willow Park recognises that by virtue of their ability, Exceptionally Able children may require specific interventions to enable them to achieve their potential and to maximise performance. These guidelines outline the school’s practice and procedures relating to the support of Exceptionally Able pupils.
The purpose of this programme is to provide a framework for the identification and ongoing support of Exceptionally Able students to ensure that they have an opportunity to progress towards realising their full potential.
The School encourages and expects all students to involve themselves in the life of the School according to their abilities and subject to demand for specific activities.
Exceptionally Able pupils have equal access to all aspects of the curriculum and school life. The School promotes a culture of success and encourages respect for all achievement whether academic, cultural or sporting.
“The term exceptionally able is used...to describe students who require opportunities for enrichment and extension that go beyond those provided for the general cohort of pupils.” (NCCA,2007).
A talented pupil may be in the top percentage in a non-academic area such as sport, visual or performing ability, mechanical ability, leadership and social awareness, creativity and arts and drama. This includes any pupil who could be recognised as gifted or talented but who is presently not reaching his or her full potential.
The School uses a range of strategies to identify Exceptionally Able pupils. The identification process is on-going and begins when the child joins the School.
Identification procedures used by the school may include:
- Observation of class-work, responses, questions, creativity, homework etc.
- Observation of social intercourse with peers and adults.
- Observation in school-yard, pitches etc., when involved in extra-curricular activities
- Tests, or other assessments (eg. reports from earlier schools)
- Information from parents/ guardians.
Information from teachers in the School is a vital component of identification. It is important therefore, that Exceptionally Able children can develop and demonstrate their potential through their participation in class and in extra-curricular activities.
Programmes for Teaching, Learning and Curriculum
Willow Park Junior is a school that delivers an enriched curriculum to mixed ability classes. Continuing its strong academic tradition, the school provides a broad range of stimulating and challenging activities both within and outside the classroom. Staff are alert to gifted pupils and differentiate in the delivery of their material, allowing all pupils to attain their potential. Thus, gifted pupils are challenged academically whilst learning within their class group.
The Assessment for Learning (AfL) approach is recommended for all pupils in Willow and is particularly pertinent for Exceptionally Able pupils as it “emphasises the child’s active role in his own learning, in that the teacher and child agree what the outcomes of the learning should be and the criteria for judging to what extent the outcome has been achieved...This level of involvement in shaping their own learning can heighten children’s awareness of themselves as learners and encourage them to take more personal responsibility for, and pride in, their learning.”
Teachers encourage pupils to be ‘self-regulated learners’, ask pupils to revisit completed work (with an eye on improvement or development) and support pupils in building portfolios/copy-books that show genuine progress.
In recent years, the school has liaised with the Centre for Talented Youth in Dublin City University and parents are aware of their recommendations regarding Exceptionally Able children and the facilities available in DCU.
To meet the needs of Exceptionally Able children, the School promotes use of a variety of strategies including differentiation, learning centres, flexible groupings, competitions, clubs and projects. The school Library is richly stocked with material to allow further reading, exploration and learning by avid readers and able pupils. The Library is accessible every morning at 8.30am.
Extension activities, that are more demanding of their abilities, or enrichment activities that provide new and different ways of working will be provided during class or as home-work /project-work.
Opportunities for Exceptionally Able pupils to work together may be provided, particularly in the context of competitions, Project work and extra-curricular activities.
There will be opportunities for performance, or to display talents during the school year, for example during Willow Arts’ Week, Science Week, Seachtaine na Gaeilge, Music performances, Form corridor displays etc.
The school provides an extensive range of curricular and extra-curricular activities suited to the needs of Exceptionally Able children. These include: (timetabled) French, I.T, Music and (before/after school) Starter Spanish, Chess, School Choir, Orchestra, Speech and Drama. Boys are also encouraged to get involved in charitable initiatives - particularly in the senior end of the school where mini-business start-ups create profits for charity.
The busy Sports’ schedule also provides a balance for those of a more academic bent (as well as those who are athletically talented). All boys are expected to participate in sports- rugby, swimming, cross-country, P.E., soccer, basket-ball and soccer. Other sports available include: fencing, tennis and golf.
In recognising that schools are largely ‘social’ institutions and that all pupils (including gifted pupils) want normal social interactions, Willow Park Junior is sensitive in how it responds to the needs of the Exceptionally Able. The key lies in appropriate communication between the teacher, the parent and the pupil, allowing for the especial potential to be developed within a scenario that meets the many psychological and social needs of a young, growing boy.
Twice Exceptional Pupils
The School recognises that some pupils may be Twice Exceptional, that it, be gifted but also have a learning difficulty. In this situation, the school will liaise closely with parents in ensuring appropriate support for such pupils within the context of the Willow Park’s Learning Support programme and this policy.
The School may, from time to time as appropriate, assign staff training days or advise on Educational In-service for the Gifted & Talented to provide support to teachers (and parents) in the implementation of these Guidelines.
Evaluation and review
These Guidelines are reviewed and updated on an annual basis.