GT Voice Sets Out Its Immediate Priorities

 I reproduce below the full text of an article I prepared and agreed with the GT Voice Board setting out the Board’s immediate priorities. GT Voice is publishing this in a variety of settings to ensure that it gives the widest possible publicity to its intentions.

Over the past year or so a volunteer working group has been developing GT Voice, a new network for all those interested in UK gifted and talented education.

In September the membership elected 9 out of 16 nominated members on to a formal GT Voice Board: Johnny Ball, Anna Comino-James, Matt Dickenson, Tim Dracup, Aileen Hoare, Chris Leek, Paula Radice, John Stevenage and Denise Yates. Nine were already working group members, so continuity is maintained. The Board has elected Denise Yates as its inaugural chair and has also co-opted Carol Singh. GT Voice currently has 170 members and is actively seeking more.

If you are involved with G&T education, whether in an organisational or an individual capacity, please get in touch. We want to recruit more parents, teachers, schools, local and national bodies. We are ready to discuss partnership and collaboration with any other organisations that are actively working in this field, or are interested in doing so. We can offer access to most of the leading experts and providers working in UK gifted education today and, together, we represent an important and powerful lobby for education reform.

The GT Board has already met twice and has been developing its strategy for the first year of operation. Apart from building our own infrastructure, we have identified the following priorities:

Communication

  • From November we shall be publishing a free monthly e-bulletin to update, inform, involve and recruit members in the UK and around the world. The first edition features some informative and provocative articles by Board members as well as news items and links to significant documents. It draws on the news and commentary we provide through the #gtvoice hashtag on Twitter which you can use to keep a closer eye on the latest developments. Please send us your feedback on the e-bulletin and ideas for future content – we want to make sure that it meets your needs.
  • We are launching a Google Group for members and prospective members – an online forum in which we can collectively discuss the issues that concern us. In the short term this will play a significant role in the development of GT Voice policy and position statements.
  • Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous sponsor we are developing a new website. It will be designed to support better communication and interaction between our members, offering a hub from which they can more easily reach like-minded colleagues and the huge wealth of online resources available. We expect to launch the new website by March 2012.
  • As part of our strategy to reach out to prospective members we are producing publicity materials, including leaflets and fliers for distribution to and through schools. We anticipate that schools providing system-wide leadership in gifted education will be amongst those wishing to join the network, as will G&T leading teachers, G&T co-ordinators and those applying to specialise in support for highly able pupils under the Specialist Leaders in Education (SLE) scheme. But we are open to all schools, teachers, parents and learners who wish to join. All we ask is that they sign up to our Charter, currently available at http://gtvoice.org.uk/gt-voice-charter
  • We are also developing a media strategy to ensure that gifted and talented education is more thoroughly and more accurately reported. We want to encourage better coverage of positive news stories and regular features about effective practice – and to make sure that issues of concern to our members are properly aired by the education media.

Policy and Partnership

  • We shall shortly be launching a ‘national conversation’ about gifted and talented education which we shall conduct through a series of regional meetings (locations will be confirmed in our newsletter, on Twitter and on our current website) as well as via our Google Group. We want to: get a clear sense of the priorities and concerns of our membership; articulate the key questions that we need to address; and begin to work towards answers that our membership can collectively endorse. We recognise that we represent a ‘broad church’ that holds diverse views about the best ways forward, but we hope to build greater consensus while continuing to respect the right of our members to hold their own positions.
  • This will help us to develop a gifted and talented policy framework for GT Voice that reflects the range of views held by the membership, while also enabling us to push collectively for greater recognition of the needs of gifted learners and a more effective response to those needs. In parallel, we are also putting in place a ‘rapid response’ facility so that GT Voice can quickly publish its position on relevant publications and policy announcements. We shall be testing and refining these processes over the next few months, beginning with the publication of the Sutton Trust’s survey on ‘Educating the Especially Able’, commissioned from the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, which is due to be published in January 2012.
  • Finally, we are determined to tear down the walls that keep gifted education separate from wider education and social policy. We firmly believe that part of our role is to develop broader understanding of the significance of gifted education in this wider context, and so we extend an open invitation to parallel organisations and networks to explore how we can work together for mutual benefit. We want to hear from prospective partners in this country and abroad, for part of our purpose is to support the growing movement for global advocacy and global collaboration in gifted and talented education.

For further information, or to join GT Voice, please contact us at enquiries@gtvoice.org.uk

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