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Education is a devolved issue, and how students are identified, described and supported differs across the UK.

England

In England, there is no national definition of “more able” or “gifted” students or national support programme since the Young Gifted and Talented Programme closed in 2010.

The inspections body, Ofsted, evaluates whether schools “nurture, develop and stretch pupils’ talents and interests”. In two evaluative reports, published in 2013 and 2015, Ofsted was critical of the support provided to “more able” pupils, and called upon schools to improve their curriculums, the transition between primary and secondary school, and their work with families to support aspiration.

The Department for Education (DfE) states that the introduction of Grade 9 at GCSE and Progress 8 as an accountability measure allows schools to be held to account in how well they support “more able” students. The DfE says Pupil Premium funds allow schools to provide support to highly able students, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Opportunity Areas scheme also seeks to raise standards and support available.

Reports by the Sutton Trust and Potential Plus UK have argued that Ofsted should strengthen its inspection of provision for disadvantaged highly-able students and called upon the DfE to invest in programmes to evaluate the effectiveness of the support provided.

Wales

“More gifted and talented” students should be identified and supported by schools, and provided with an individual learning pathway. Pupil Development Grants provide funding to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, whilst the Seren network seeks to support the most academically able gain entry to leading universities.

Estyn, the Welsh schools regulator, concluded in 2018 that, in around a third of schools, more able pupils were not achieving as well as they should. The Welsh Government announced additional funding for the Seren network and said further changes would be considered within the context of the new curriculum, due to be introduced in 2022.

Scotland

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, as amended, requires schools to provide additional support to learners in need of support, including those who are “particularly able or talented”. The Government has also published statutory guidance.

In response to an independent review, which found a “significant disconnect between experience and the stated aspirations of the legislation and policy”, the Scottish Government said in October 2020 that a new Action Plan would seek to enhance pupil experiences.

Northern Ireland

Schools should take steps to support “Gifted and talented” pupils, potentially through providing greater challenge in lessons, participation in extra-curricular activities and allow transfer to a post-primary school a year earlier than normal.


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