The Policy Exchange National Scholarships Programme


This post is a short critical analysis of the proposal for a new National Scholarships Programme contained in the Policy Exchange Education Manifesto, published in March 2015.



Policy Exchange describes itself as ‘the UK’s leading think tank’.

It is Right-leaning, having been established in 2002 by a group including Boles (the founding Director), Gove and Maude, all currently Conservative Ministers in the Coalition Government.

On Friday 6 March, Policy Exchange published an Education Manifesto, authored by its Education Team: Jonathan Simons, Natasha Porter and Annaliese Briggs.

The Manifesto’s Introduction says:

‘This is not a manifesto in its traditional sense. What is published here is a collection of short ideas around particular areas which are more localised than those in our main reports. It is our hope and our belief that any or all of them could be taken up by any main political party in May 2015, and they complement the broader policy recommendations we have put forward in our published reports.’

There are seven ‘ideas’, the last of which is for National Scholarships, summarised as follows:

‘Government should design a prestigious scholarship scheme to financially support the most talented undergraduates in the country – covering approximately 200 individuals a year – if they attend a UK university and remain in the UK for at least three years after graduation.’

Despite the authors named above, this has unmistakeably Odyssean fingerprints!



The purpose of the Programme seems to be to ensure that the economic benefits vested in the most outstanding undergraduates are not lost to the UK through ‘brain drain’:

‘The intention would be to marry the most able students within the UK with some of the world class provision on offer at UK universities (though the scholar would have their free choice of which institution to attend). The financial package would act less as a facilitator to go to university in general but as a nudge to incentivise scholars to remain in the UK throughout university and beyond, as opposed to going abroad, which is becoming an increasingly competitive battleground. [sic]’

The paper emphasises the economic benefits of investing in a country’s very highest attainers:

‘If such highly able individuals can accrue great awards and accomplishments which benefit not just themselves but, through positive spillovers, drive increase in human capital more widely, then this will be of wider benefit.’

This idea is associated with Benbow and Lubinski, Co-Directors of the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) located at Vanderbilt University in the US:

‘They argue for a national scheme to identify such individuals and nurture them, both for the individuals’ own benefits but also for the benefits of their home nations. This is because in advanced economies in particular, with a shift towards higher skilled jobs, the economic prosperity of a country depends on its human capital potential. Education today is the economy of tomorrow. If such individuals as these under discussion can generate further talent by virtue of their own accomplishments, then there is a competitive rationale for countries to identify and support these individuals.’

In fact, these arguments have a longer pedigree

There is no explanation of how the highest attainers ‘can generate further talent by virtue of their own accomplishments’, though this might be a reference to potential future employment as university academics.

Some limited evidence is cited to support fears of a brain drain:

‘A BIS report from 2010 found that some 2.8 per cent of state sector pupils and 5.5 per cent of independent sector pupils apply to universities outside the UK – small in absolute terms but “It is particularly significant that it is the academically most gifted pupils who are the most likely to apply to foreign universities”. Longitudinal data – which unfortunately only goes to 2011 – nevertheless shows a consistent increase since 2005.

Most recently, the Institute for International Education and the US-UK Fulbright Commission releaed [sic] data in late 2014 showing that there were a record number of UK students studying in the USA, which has always been the most popular country for foreign study. 10,191 British students pursued study in the US during the 2013/14 academic year, up from around 9,500 12 months earlier and the largest year-on-year increase in more than a decade. Undergraduates accounted for 49.6 per cent of all UK students heading to the US. Some 23.9 per cent were postgraduates and the remainder were taking part in short-term exchanges or graduate work programmes.’


What is proposed?

The proposed Programme would award £10,000 per year for three years of undergraduate study at an English university to ‘the top 200 scholars in the country’. The total cost of the awards would be ‘£6m a year in steady state’.

This would involve the Government collaborating with universities and other unspecified partners to develop a new optional test for 17-18 year-olds.

Any student resident in the UK would be eligible, so there would be no screening process.

The test would:

‘…seek to measure via a range of metrics a combination of academic ability and academic potential. The test would be calibrated to accurately identify those with ability found in approximately 1 in 10,000 individuals (or variants of this depending on how wide the entry criteria are drawn). A proportion of the top ranked scores on this test would be designated National Scholars and be eligible for a package of incentives under the National Scholarship Scheme, contingent upon enrolling as an undergraduate at a UK university.’

Anyone who received a scholarship and subsequently left the country within three years of graduating would be required to repay it.

Hence the scheme would obstruct enrolment as an undergraduate overseas and also place a significant obstacle in the path of postgraduate mobility.


There is no problem

The idea is a solution in search of a problem.

There is no specific evidence that the 200 students with the highest ability and academic potential (however that is measured) are any more likely to study abroad.

The 2010 BIS research report quoted above notes that 76% of the students in its survey planned to return to the UK, although many wanted to work abroad before doing so.


‘Significantly, the survey results point to the students with the strongest A level results being more likely to want to return to the UK at some point after their studies. International student mobility should not therefore be interpreted as a brain drain of the UK’s best and brightest young people.’

The BIS report quite rightly explores this issue in the context of international student mobility, the globalisation of higher education and the postgraduate labour market.

The threat of brain drain can be countered by the argument that the strongest UK students should be encouraged to attend the best courses at the world’s best universities (language of tuition permitting). Only by doing so will they maximise their skills and their subsequent economic value.

Meanwhile, the best overseas students should be welcomed to UK universities and encouraged to consider postgraduate study and employment here, so that the UK economy benefits from their engagement.

Poor policy design

There is insufficient information about the nature of the test.

It would not be an intelligence test, but would assess ‘academic ability and potential’.

Since it must be applicable to all students, regardless of their current subjects of study or their intended undergraduate field(s) of study, it must not rely in any way on subject content, otherwise it would be biased in favour of specialists in those fields.

It seems unlikely that such a test already exists, unless one is prepared to argue that the US SAT test fits the bill and, even if it does, the ceiling is almost certainly too low.

The footnotes acknowledge that:

‘…such a proposed test has no track record on validity and there will be a large number of students therefore caught in statistical noise just outside the cut off score.’

The development process would be lengthy and complex – and the costs correspondingly high. These development costs are not included in the £6m budget.

If the test is coachable, this opens up the possibility of a further market for the private tuition industry. Students will be diverted from their A level studies as a consequence.

The reference to ‘a range of metrics’ suggests the possibility of a complex test battery rather than a single assessment. The ongoing cost of administering the test is also excluded from the budget.

Similarly, the ongoing costs of administering the scholarship scheme, evaluating its effectiveness, monitoring the movements of alumni and pursuing repayments are also excluded.

The relationship between the scholarship and other forms of student support is not properly developed. Why not link the incentive to student loan repayments instead of introducing a separate scholarship scheme? One section of the paper suggests it could meet living costs, or be offset against tuition fees.

It acknowledges that many of the beneficiaries of such scholarships are likely to come from privileged backgrounds and be educated in the independent sector.

It seems unlikely that they would they be swayed by financial inducements at this level, especially if their parents have been forking out upwards of £25,000 a year for school fees.

It is likely that those who are determined to study abroad will choose not to take the test. The benefits of £30,000 now will be more than outweighed by the additional earnings they might subsequently expect as a consequence of pursuing a better course elsewhere. This will be especially true of those from affluent backgrounds.

Finally, one doubts whether a sample as tiny as 200 students a year – no matter how talented they are – would have any substantive impact on the UK economy, even assuming that the arguments in favour of globalisation could be set aside. Such a scheme would be more effective if it had a wider reach.

Redundant lines of argument and poor research

The first part of the paper is devoted to describing the original National Scholarship Programme, a completely different animal, designed to provide financial support to enable disadvantaged students to participate in higher education. It is a red herring.

In contrast, the new proposal has nothing to do with fair access or social mobility. It is ‘targeted on talent rather than socio-economic background’.

The paper argues that there are few incentives that ‘recognise and support the most intellectually able’, continuing:

 ‘At a school level, the previous National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, was cancelled in 2010 and its funds used for the National Scholarship Programme! [sic]’

This is hopelessly wrong.

NAGTY’s five year contract ended in 2007. Its sponsor, Warwick University, chose not to bid for the subsequent contract, which was intended to extend support to all England’s gifted and talented learners (then numbered at approximately one million), rather than the top 5% of 11-19 year-olds who were NAGTY’s main target group.

The subsequent contract, for Young, Gifted and Talented, ended in 2010 and was not renewed, as the then Labour Government decided to devolve responsibility to schools. This funding stream was not diverted to the NSP, which was administered by HEFCE through BIS.

The paper continues:

‘In line with a general approach towards autonomy, there is also no agreed definition of able students or gifted and talented students. Anecdotally, it is often tended to be used for somewhere around the top 15% or so of the cohort in ability terms. However, this note takes a different and much narrower definition, and is concerned with what might be called the extremely able – those with ability levels found in approximately 1 in every 10,000 of the population.’

The problematic co-existence of definitional autonomy and Ofsted’s emphasis on assessing the effectiveness of all schools’ support for the most able is not discussed.

The reference to ‘somewhere around the top 15%’ is more than anecdotal – it is plucked entirely out of the air. Having introduced this topic, what is the justification given for shifting the emphasis away from 15% of learners to 0.0001% of prospective undergraduates? The policy response to one has negligible bearing on the other.

(In fact, the footnotes reveal that a cadre of 200 scholarships would accommodate some 0.003% of the undergraduate population.)

The next section of the paper suggests that SMPY has been focused on different countries, yet SMPY participants have all been resident in the United States (though Cohort 5 covers graduate students enrolled in the top-ranked maths, science and engineering courses located there).

Benbow and Lubinski argue for a national scheme to identify and nurture such learners from the age of 13. Yet the paper switches again to discuss university scholarship schemes in the US, India, France and Russia. All of the three still extant are focused on maths, science and technology, so are not direct parallels with what is proposed here.

A comparison is drawn with elite sports funding

‘This approach mirrors closely the “no compromise approach” of elite sporting organisations funded by UK Sport, which requires tangible outcomes of high performance (ie realistic chances of an Olympic medal) in exchange for funding. Less successful sports, however, popular, are not entitled to the same levels of funding. The net result is that performance at the elite end of UK sport has exponentially grown – whilst alongside that, other funding helps develop grass roots sport and widening participation.’

I struggle to understand the parallels between funding for successful sports and for successful students, unless this is supposed to make the case for not linking the scholarships to socio-economic disadvantage.

The inclusion of a table of five countries’ Olympic medal tallies from 1996-2012 is, however, entirely spurious and redundant.



The end of the paper says:

‘There should also be a renewed focus on how to stretch all pupils within the state sector at whatever level, and further work on identifying potential highly able talent across the wider state education sector as Ofsted have identified – both of which will be the focus of future Policy Exchange work. But this is not the same thing, and nor should it be confused with, a scheme to reward and nurture excellence at 18 now, wherever it comes from.’

This is surely ironic, in that much of the commentary above shows how these two issues have been interleaved in the paper itself.

The fact that Policy Exchange plans fresh work on the wider question of support for the most able in schools is welcome. I look forward to being involved.

But, meanwhile, this idea should be consigned to the bin.




March 2015

Air on the ‘G’ String: Hoagies’ Bloghop, May 2014


medium_17873944As I see it, there are three sets of issues with the ‘G’ word:

  • Terminological – the term carries with it associations that make some advocates uncomfortable and predispose others to resist such advocacy.
  • Definitional – there are many different ways to define the term and the subset of the population to which it can be applied; there is much disagreement about this, even amongst advocates.
  • Labelling – the application of the term to individuals can have unintended negative consequences, for them and for others.


Terminological issues

We need shared terminology to communicate effectively about this topic. A huge range of alternatives is available: able, more able, highly able, most able, talented, asynchronous, high potential, high learning potential… and so on.

These terms – the ‘g’ word in particular – are often qualified by an adjective – profoundly, highly, exceptionally – which adds a further layer of complexity. Then there is the vexed question of dual and multiple exceptionality…

Those of us who are native English speakers conveniently forget that there are also numerous terms available in other languages: surdoue, hochbegabung, hochbegaabte, altas capacidades, superdotados, altas habilidades, evnerik and many, many more!

Each of these terms has its own good and bad points, its positive and negative associations.

The ‘g’ word has a long history, is part of the lingua franca and is still most widely used. But its long ascendancy has garnered a richer mix of associations than some of the alternatives.

The negative associations can be unhelpful to those seeking to persuade others to respond positively and effectively to the needs of these children and young people. Some advocates feel uncomfortable using the term and this hampers effective communication, both within the community and outside it.

Some react negatively to its exclusive, elitist connotations; on the other hand, it can be used in a positive way to boost confidence and self-esteem.

But, ultimately, the term we use is less significant than the way in which we define it. There may be some vague generic distaste for the ‘g’ word, but logic should dictate that most reactions will depend predominantly on the meaning that is applied to the term.


Definitional issues

My very first blog post drew attention to the very different ways in which this topic is approached around the world. I identified three key polarities:

  • Nature versus nurture – the perceived predominance of inherited disposition over effort and practice, or vice versa.
  • Excellence versus equity – whether priority is given to raising absolute standards and meritocracy or narrowing excellence gaps and social mobility.
  • Special needs versus personalisation – whether the condition or state defined by the term should be addressed educationally as a special need, or through mainstream provision via differentiation and tailored support.

These definitional positions may be associated with the perceived pitch or incidence of the ‘g’ condition. When those at the extreme of the distribution are under discussion, or the condition is perceived to be extremely rare, a nature-excellence-special needs perspective is more likely to predominate. A broader conceptualisation pushes one towards the nurture-equity-personalisation nexus.

Those with a more inclusive notion of ‘g’-ness – who do not distinguish between ‘bright’ and ‘g’, include all high attainers amongst the latter and are focused on the belief that ‘g’-ness is evenly distributed in the population by gender, ethnic and socio-economic background – are much more likely to hold the latter perspective, or at least tend towards it.

There are also differences according to whether the focus is the condition itself – ‘g’-ness – or schooling for the learners to whom the term is applied – ‘g’ education. In the first case, nature, excellence and special needs tend to predominate; in the second the reverse is true. This can compromise interaction between parents and educators.

In my experience, if the ‘g’ word is qualified by a careful definition that takes account of these three polarities, a mature discussion about needs and how best to meet them is much more likely to occur.

In the absence of a shared definition, the associations of the term will likely predominate unchecked. Effective communication will be impossible; common ground cannot be established; the needs that the advocate is pressing will remain unfulfilled. That is in no-one’s best interests, least of all those who are ‘g’.


Labelling Issues 

When the ‘g’ word is applied to an individual, it is likely to influence how that individual perceives himself and how others perceive him.

Labelling is normally regarded as negative, because it implies a fixed and immutable state and may subject the bearers of the label to impossibly high expectations, whether of behaviour or achievement, that they cannot always fulfil.

Those who do not carry the label may see themselves as second class citizens, become demotivated and much less likely to succeed.

But, as noted above, it is also possible to use the ‘g’ label to confer much-needed status and attention on those who do not possess the former or receive enough of the latter. This can boost confidence and self-esteem, making the owners of the label more likely to conform to the expectations that it carries.

This is particularly valuable for those who strive to promote equity and narrow excellence gaps between those from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Moreover, much depends on whether the label is permanently applied or confers a temporary status.

I recently published a Twitter conversation explaining how the ‘g’ label can be used as a marker to identify those learners who for the time being need additional learning support to maximise their already high achievement.

This approach reflects the fact that children and young people do not develop through a consistent linear process, but experience periods of rapid development and comparative stasis.

The timing and duration of these periods will vary so, at any one time in any group of such individuals, some will be progressing rapidly and others will not. Over the longer term some will prove precocious; others late developers.

This is not to deny that a few learners at the extreme of the distribution will retain the marker throughout their education, because they are consistently far ahead of their peers and so need permanent additional support to maximise their achievement.

But, critically, the label is earned through evidence of high achievement rather than through a test of intelligence or cognitive ability that might have been administered once only and in the distant past. ‘G’-ness depends on educational success. It also forces educators to address underachievement at the top of the attainment spectrum.

If a label is more typically used as a temporary marker it must be deployed sensitively, in a way that is clearly understood by learners and their parents. They must appreciate that the removal of the marker is not a punishment or downgrading that leads to loss of self-esteem.

Because the ‘g’ label typically denotes a non-permanent state that defines need rather than expectation, most if not all of the negative connotations can be avoided.

Nevertheless, this may be anathema to those with a nature-excellence-special needs perspective!



I have avoided using the ‘g’ word within this post, partly to see if it could be done and partly out of respect for those of you who dislike it so much.

But I have also advanced some provocative arguments using terminology that some of you will find equally disturbing. That is deliberate and designed to make you think!

The ‘g’ word has substantial downside, but this can be minimised through careful definition and the application of the label as a non-permanent marker.

It may be that the residual negative associations are such that an alternative is still preferable. The question then arises whether there is a better term with the same currency and none of the negative connotations.

As noted above there are many contenders – not all of them part of the English language – but none stands head-and-shoulders above its competitors.

And of course it is simply impossible to ban a word. Indeed, any attempt to do so would provoke many of us – me included – to use the ‘g’ word even more frequently and with much stronger conviction.



Hoagies bloghop


This blog is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page inaugural Blog Hop on The “G” Word (“Gifted”).  To read more blogs in this hop, visit this Blog Hop at




May 2014






photo credit: <a href=””>neurollero</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

A Brief Discussion about Gifted Labelling and its Permanency


Some of my readership may be interested in this Twitter exchange with Ellen Spencer a researcher at the Centre for Real-World Learning, the ClaxtonLucas vehicle based at the University of Winchester.

The sequence of Tweets is embedded below (scroll down to the bottom for the start)



We discussed the issue of labelling gifted learners and the idea that such labels may not be permanent sifting devices, but temporary markers attached to such learners only while they need additional challenge and support.

This is not to deny that some gifted learners may warrant a permanent marker, but it does imply that many – probably most – will move in and out of scope as they develop in non-linear fashion and differentially to their peers.

Of course much depends on one’s understanding of giftedness and gifted education, a topic I have addressed frequently, starting with my inaugural post in May 2010.

Three-and-a-half years on, it seems to me that the default position has shifted somewhat further towards the Nurture, Equity and Personalisation polarities.

But the notion of giftedness as dynamic in both directions – with learners shifting in and out of scope as they develop – may be an exception to that broader direction of travel.

Of course there’s been heavy emphasis on movement into scope (the broader notion of giftedness as learned behaviour and achievable through effort) but very little attention given to progress in the opposite direction.

It is easy to understand how this would be a red rag to several bulls in the gifted education field, while outward movement raises difficult questions for everybody – whether or not advocates for gifted education – about communication and management of self-esteem.

But reform and provocation are often stalwart bedfellows. Feel free to vent your spleen in the comments section below.



February 2014

Gifted Phoenix Twitter Round-up Volume 12: Giftedness and Gifted Education


Here is a slightly overdue termly round-up of activity on the Gifted Phoenix Twitter feed.

4-Eyes-resized-greenjacketfinalThe sheer volume of activity undertaken over the four month period since my last review – attributable to my efforts to cover domestic education policy alongside global gifted activity – has led me to experiment with separating those two strands.

So this section of Volume 12 is dedicated to giftedness and gifted education over the period February 24 to July 3 2013.

Two further sections are devoted to wider education policy, organised on a thematic basis.

The material is organised into the following categories:

  • Global coverage, including sub-sections for each continent. As ever, this broadly reflects the distribution of activity worldwide, with little happening in Africa and a lot in the US.
  • UK coverage, including a discrete sub-section on Ofsted’s ‘Most Able Students’ survey, published in June 2013.
  • Thematic coverage, containing sub-sections on Intelligence and Neuroscience, Creativity and Innovation, Twice-Exceptional and Gifted Research.
  • Gifted Commentary, with subsections devoted to Yours Truly, Twitter chats and other posts.

Because the timespan covered by this review is relatively long, I have decided to keep the broad chronological order rather than grouping tweets thematically within sections. This means that readers will need to search a little more – for example for the limited non-US coverage within the sub-section devoted to The Americas.

As usual I have relied almost exclusively on my own Tweets, including only those that carry a hyperlink. I have not checked that all links remain live. I have included a few retweets and modified tweets originated by others.



July 2013


Giftedness and Gifted Education Around the World



A Learnist board on gifted education:

The Open Education Database includes a single offering on gifted education: Frankly that’s pathetic

Confirmation that @LesLinks is the new World Council President: – I shall have to mind my Ps and Qs!

Looks as though ICIE’s 2014 Conference is in Chennai, India: – Usual suspects involved

IRATDE’s latest journal – Talent Development and Excellence Vol 5 No 1 (2013):

Inside view of WCGTC Conference preparations: – I hadn’t appreciated that Denmark is hosting in 2015

World Council Conference in Kentucky is up to 350 acceptances: so they need a last-minute surge

World Council 2015 Gifted Conference in Denmark will be located in Odense, August 10-14: No direct flights?



Guardian feature on Sheikh School, the ‘Eton of Somaliland’:





A more hostile position on the expansion of Renzulli academies in Connecticut:

About US NAGC’s Administrator’s Toolbox for Gifted Education – which is here

The row about NYC’s gifted programme rumbles on and on…and on:

New Executive Director of US federal initiative to secure Educational Excellence for African Americans:

How does Insight Help Gifted Children? – Piece on Esther Katz Rosen Early Career Research Grants

Paper on impact on gifted learners of inclusion policy in British Columbia:

Evidence of a backlash against those proposed new Renzulli academies in Connecticut:

Article on college readiness of gifted students by CTY’s Director:

Senator Chuck Grassley continues his support for high ability students in the USA:

Legal action threatened over gifted education in NY State:



Chuck Grassley press release on latest introduction of the Talent Act:

MT @ljconrad: Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth Newsletter

CEC press release on the latest edition of the Talent Act:

Missouri Senate progressing bill to establish a gifted and talented advisory council:

More on ability grouping in the US: and

The Socialist Worker perspective on gifted education in New York City:

Recap of an event to discuss gifted education issues in Ohio:

State-wide review of gifted education in Pennsylvania moves a step closer:

Louisiana gifted funding plan under fire: and this from Ravitch

A bit more negative reaction to Louisiana proposal to link gifted funding to test scores:

Why my grandson, 4, won’t be taking a gifted ed test:

Meanwhile discussion continues over Delaware’s grants for gifted education bill:

The Renzulli Academy planned in New London is relegated to an incubator programme:

NEPC review says recent ‘Does Sorting Students Improve Test Scores’ paper too poor to inform tracking policy:

Pro-acceleration legislation enacted in Colorado:

Belin-Blank on Grassley’s Talent Act:

Rapper Wale (next album ‘Gifted) to perform at WKU, home of the World Council. A publicist’s dream!

Florida’s apprach to gifted education begins to focus more strongly on equity issues:

Jann Leppien lands that Gifted Chair at Whitworth U (reserved for someone of a Christian persuasion)

Report on Talent Management in US Education: – They and we could start the process with school-age students

Loveless reviews the US history of tracking and ability grouping and calls for more research:

A couple of reports on initial impact of changes to tests for the NYC gifted programme: and

January 2013 CTYI doctoral thesis about impact of the Centre for Academic Achievement (CAA):

Iowa elementary school teacher says gifted learners deserve attention too:

NGLB – No Gifted Left Behind:  – a view from Illinois

Ohio’s new report cards include gifted learners. Simulation based on old data suggests shortcomings:

Pearson make clunking great horlicks of NY gifted test and Humble pie abounds

Belin-Blank Director refers you to her paywalled research I want it freely accessible

State report card shows some high performing Ohio districts don’t cut the mustard with gifted ed:

Rumblings continue over Pearson’s testing issues in NYC Apparently it’s being called TestingGATE (ho ho)

Democrat sources argue for reform to NYC’s gifted programme:

A call for stronger gifted education in Baltimore:

Pearson’s gifted assessment contract with NYC reportedly under threat as a second error is uncovered

More from across the Atlantic on grouping by ability:

African-Americans and Hispanics are heavily under-represented in Virginia’s gifted programmes:

Profile of Sue Khim: the founder of Brilliant:

Following the testing debacle, NYC gifted admissions process now faces a parental lawsuit:

Brief feature on the founder of a Center for Talent Attention, presumably based in Mexico:

New London has rejected a Renzulli Academy: – but is it the last word?

Latest NEPC Policy Brief is resolutely anti-tracking and so won’t go unchallenged:

Looks as though @donnayford is launching a blog:

Gatton Academy at WKU has a relationship with Harlaxton College in Grantham



Debate about the pros and cons of ability grouping continues:

Finding America’s Missing AP/IB Students Education Trust says they can help tackle excellence gaps

More about ability grouping, from the NYT:

US NAGC press release on inclusion of gifted learners in draft ESEA Reauthorisation Bill:

Another view on ability grouping/tracking in US Will Ofsted report on ‘most able’ reignite debate here?

Another contribution to US debate on ability grouping:

Fixing America’s Talent Problem (mostly higher education focused):

CEC press release on the latest moves to introduce a US TALENT Act:

NAGC’s Press Release on the Talent Act:

A real slanging match in the comments on: ‘The Anti-Gifted Sentiment Behind Closing the Gap’:

A giftedness blog in British Columbia has come back to life:

Ending the neglect of Illinois’ gifted students:

This page carries a link to a powerpoint on gifted education (for women) in Costa Rica:

NYC gifted education again:  (including the judge who needs a crash course in gifted education)



Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi donates $10m to Permata Pintar gifted programme in Malaysia: – Jealous!

There’s a talk in Cambridge next week on gifted education in Kazakhstan:

Next round of gifted education awards in the Philippines:

New Wikipedia entry on the High School for Gifted Students at Hanoi University of Science:

Positive outcomes of Malaysia’s Permata Pintar Gifted programme via @noorsyakina:

Over in Hong Kong, HKAGE is running a student conference on giftedness and creativity in November:

Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education needs Associate Director for Student Programmes and Services:

A very brief item on Kuwaiti gifted education from the national news agency:

Interesting feature on giftedness from the Bangkok Post:  (don’t be put off by the awful stock photo)

Recording of that Cambridge seminar I referenced on gifted education in Kazakhstan:



Bloom Nepal sounds like a valuable gifted education initiative in that country:

Is Vietnam’s national gifted education programme a waste of money?

A Talent School of Academic and Arts (TSAA) is opening in Makati, Philippines:

A Glance at Gifted Education in Singapore:

Brief piece on gifted education in Bahrain:

Mawhiba (gifted education in Saudi Arabia) is supporting over 12,000 students in its third phase:

Evaluating the Effects of the Oasis Enrichment Model (on gifted education in Saudi Arabia):



Feature on China’s School for the Gifted Young: with an interesting opening line

RT @noorsyakina: First Lady of Mozambique visits Permata Pintar in Malaysia

There’s now a National Association of Gifted Education in India. Here’s its test website:

Expansion of Saudi Mawhiba gifted summer school plus international girls’ programme involving CTY

Bahraini students will take part in the Mawhiba-CTY girls only summer school:

UKM in Malaysia has signed a MoU with Kazakhstan University including gifted education collaboration

The Eden Center: A Haven for Korea’s Highly Gifted Kids:

A piece on teaching mathematically gifted Muslim girls from India:

Kazakhstan: Nazarbayed Intellectual Schools needs teachers (to teach in English)

Jakarta Post features an academy for poor but gifted students in Sumatra:

China has launched a first Regional Talent Competitiveness Report: and



Gifted Kids in NZ has appointed a new chair:

RT @jofrei: Gifted Resources March newsletter can be read online at

Gifted education is a focus in state elections in Western Australia:

Feature on gifted education in the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand:

Brief Massey University press release on an upcoming regional gifted education conference in NZ:



Guidance from New Zealand about developing Professional Learning Networks in Gifted Education:

MT @jofrei: Gifted Resources March No 2 Newsletter can be read online at

New article from New Zealand comparing enrichment and acceleration:

TKI Gifted in NZ is now advertising the World Council Conference, shifted from NZ to Kentucky:

Bit of a coup for GERRIC, who are running gifted teacher education courses for ESF in Hong Kong:

MT @jofrei: Gifted Resources April Newsletter can be read online at

State Government’s response to the Inquiry into Victorian gifted education begins to emerge:

University of New England (Australia) seeks Lecturer in School Pedagogy/Gifted Education:



MT @jofrei: VAGTC EmpowerED Conference report on Gifted Resources blog

Extended differentiated Instruction presentation from recent gifted conference in Victoria, Australia:

New Zealand’s Got Talent. The Role of Schools in Talent Development: – Unites arguments I support and oppose

Time for the annual New Zealand Gifted Awareness Blog Tour:

Welcome to the NZGAW Blog Tour 2013:

‘Your MP is Probably Gifted’: – a timely comment from New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week

Australian Mensa is worried about what happens to gifted students in Australian universities:

A contribution to the ability grouping debate (the one in NZ this time):

Young members of Mensa New Zealand: – a world away from Child Genius!

Picture this: gifted (from NZGAW):

Gifted Kids at [NZ] Parliament: – Green Party support for NZGAW

NZ Labour Party supports Gifted Awareness Week:

Another NZGAW offering – Kiwi learners reflect on what it means to be gifted:

Investigation into the Identification of Maori Gifted and Talented Students (from NZGAW):

RT @ljconrad: AUS: Gifted Resources Newsletter June 2013 (pdf) from @jofrei

Interesting progress report on New South Wales’ Virtual Selective High School, xsel:



It’s Ireland’s 3rd National Gifted Awareness Week soon! Are you a potential sponsor?

European Talent Centre website has ended its hibernation; features an essay by Roland Persson

Summary of the recent EU Hearing on Talent Support: – No comment.

The EU Talent Centre has finally published volume 2 of International Horizons of Talent Support:

ECHA is calling for bids to host its 2016 conference and – Deadline 10 April

Maltese Education Department reforms to support high achievers. Report: – coverage:

Potential Plus and Silverman on Tour in Denmark:

Contributions to Denmark’s 2013 Symposium on gifted including contributions from Potential Plus:

RT @GTNIrl: What if Giftedness was not defined as SEN in Ireland?



EESC Opinion Unleashing the potential of children and young people with high intellectual abilities in EU:

MT @Dazzlld: Some news from the Irish Gifted Education Blog:

MT @peter_lydon:Gifted And Talented Network Ireland helps parents of gifted children to support each other

Gifted education arrives in Gozo:

RT @Begabungs: The first Gifted Awareness Week in Germany – June 3rd to June 9th 2013

Supply of Turkish gifted education inadequate to meet demand (courtesy of @ljconrad):

CTYI/DCU setting up Irish Centre for Gifted Research with support from College of William and Mary:

Armenian scholarship fund for gifted learners at Dilijan International School: and:

MT @Begabungs: Article from France! Thank you France!

Legislative Strategies to Promote Talent in Romania (full text via PDF link):

RT @Begabungs: The Development of Giftedness and Talent in 21st Century October 5th – 6th, 2013 Toulouse


UK Coverage


News and Developments

Dance and Drama Awards Guide for 2013/14 (New Students):

Dear Treasury: economic growth is driven by human capital. Jerrim makes strong case for investment in high achievers

TES on How to Meet the Needs of Child Prodigies plus article featuring my alter ego:

A positive profile of Chetham’s, part of the MDS and an important part of our gifted education provision:

Gove concedes that ‘there is much more that we can do’ to support high achievers: (Col 652) We’re all ears

Will removal of a flexi-schooling option impact disproportionately on gifted learners? Evidence?:

New Ofsted Report on Schools’ Use of Early Entry to GCSE Examinations (March 2013):

TES: Familiar portrayal of Chinese education ethos Author (a head) wants to ban use of ‘gifted and talented’

Adonis is new chair of trustees at IPPR: so maybe they’ll show some interest in future of gifted education



Cridland speech to #ascl2013 asks whether gifted learners get the challenge and support they need:

Q. How can education best contribute to Cameron’s ‘global race’? A. Partly by investing in tomorrow’s high achievers:

Concern at the plight of EAL support – will hit the oft-forgotten EAL gifted learners:

Reports on safeguarding at Chetham’s:  and  – will there be wider implications for MDS?

@judeenright Amazingly I’ve just had a pingback from a post on Dux you published 362 days ago!:

Will Gilbert’s audit push Thurrock to improve gifted education? This mum hopes so: – I won’t hold my breath

RT @DMUVC: Hundreds of secondary school pupils have been on campus for DMU Gifted and Talented programme

New DfE research on KS2 Level 6 Tests: – Critical of lack of guidance; doesn’t mention disappearance of L6

“It is the unfortunate nature of state schools that gifted children are often limited”:

Somewhere in England there’s a school that thinks NAGTY still exists: – It closed in 2007

Sutton Trust’s future strategy features Open Access (bad) and Helping the Highly Able (depends how) – see p5

TES says Government is no longer promoting setting: – but what will Ofsted say about impact on highly able?

How Level 6 tests are viewed in secondaries: Gifted learners suffer badly from this poor transition practice



Waiting to see whether and how high attainers will be accommodated in TechBacc: and

Cybersecurity’s the latest industry to harness the power of gifted learners:

We had the school that thought NAGTY still existed; now we have the College seeking to re-energise YG&T:

Still no TES this morning so you’ll have to make do with my new post on KS2 L6 and prospects for a Summer of Love:

THE article on Universities’ sponsorship of academies and my piece on 16-19 maths free schools

Collaborative support for gifted education in Dudley:

The importance of cross-phase collaboration: – critical for gifted learners as the KS2 L6 report showed

Abuse enquiries spreading across MDS schools: – Presumably some central action is under consideration

One of Labour’s policy forums urged review of gifted education policy: (more detail in linked Word doc)

Cambridge University willl be sponsoring the Villiers Park Scholars Programme in Hastings:

IGGY’s reached 2,500 members: and That’s slower progress than I’d anticipated

My post on IGGY discusses its membership/targets: 3,000 members’ claimed in 2012 v ‘over 2,500’ now?

Kings College 16-19 Maths School’s appointed a Head My progress report on 16-19 Maths Schools

This TES report states explicitly that 16 16-19 maths schools are planned: – Would like to know the source for that

Hoping for crossover between Ofsted’s upcoming reports on highly able and gap-narrowing. Excellence gaps need closing



Estyn’s Report on KS2/3 Science says more able pupils are insufficiently stretched:

TES on threat to NASA’s space education budget: – would be a significant loss to gifted education

Timely publicity for Government-supported Cyber Security Talent Search for KS4 students: GCHQ is a sponsor!

Thought-provoking piece ahead of ‘Child Genius’: Penultimate paragraph is the killer

Latest edition of the gtvoice Newsletter: Mentions two very important meetings in this ‘Summer of Love’

Congratulations to Horndean Techonology College for being one of 8 lead schools for more able  Not sure whose scheme?

Sweeteners for university sponsors of 16-19 maths free schools My analysis of progress to date

Here’s a brief report on Fair Access issues, especially some news about the Dux Award Scheme:

STA received 240 complaints re non-registration of KS2 pupils for Level 6 tests post-deadline: (Col 531W)


Ofsted Report

Still wondering why Ofsted’s rapid response gifted education survey: – isn’t yet listed here:

HMCI still bigging up Ofsted’s upcoming report on highly able: Identification, tracking sure, but streaming?

Telegraph says Ofsted’s ‘Most Able Pupils’ report will issue next week, but no new details of likely content

Telegraph calls the Ofsted Able pupils Report ‘damning’; Ofsted will now routinely check whether their needs are met:

Guardian coverage of the Ofsted Able Pupils Survey launch says it based on visits to 41 non-selective schools:

Independent on Ofsted Able Pupils Survey: some schools not identifying most able (which was a requirement up to 2011):

BBC coverage of Ofsted Able Pupils Report leads on failure to translate L5 to A* HMCI advocates setting/streaming:

Sutton Trust wants Government to fund trials of best ways to support gifted learners: So a job for the EEF Sir Peter?

This short piece on gifted education and Learning Schools should’ve been published elsewhere today It wasn’t



In which I propose a National Network of Learning Schools (to complement the Teaching Schools Network):

RT @dandoj: Interesting Ofsted story on schools failing to challenge the brightest – particularly true for the poorest

@rchak100 @brianlightman @dylanwiliam There’s more data than you can shake a stick at in my analysis here:

Ofsted Report on the Most Able Pupils now published: plus press release

Ofsted report says in only 20% of 2327 lessons observed were able pupils supported well or better: (p7)

Also surprised that Ofsted most able report is silent on school-to-school collaboration. My own modest proposal here:

Key Finding 1: In many schools expectations of most able are too low:

Key Finding 2: In non-selective schools 65% of those achieving L5 in Eng and Ma didn’t get GCSE A*/A (2012):

Key Finding 3: School leaders ‘haven’t done enough to create a culture of scholastic excellence’:

Key Finding 3 (cont) Schools don’t routinely give same attention to most able as they do to those struggling

Key Finding 4: Transition arrangements don’t ensure high attainers maintain momentum into Year 7:

Key Finding 5: KS3 teaching is insufficiently focused on the most able:

Key Finding 6: Many students become used to under-challenge. Parents and teachers accept this too readily:

Key Finding 7: KS3 curriculum and early GCSE entry are key weaknesses; homework insufficiently challenging:

Key Finding 8: Inequalities amongst most able aren’t being addressed satisfactorily. Particularly FSM boys:

Key Finding 8 (cont): Few schools are using Pupil Premium to support most able from disadvantaged backgrounds

Key Finding 9: Many schools aren’t using assessment, tracking and targeting effectively with most able:

Key Finding 10: Too few schools worked with families to remove cultural/financial obstacles to HE admission

Key Finding 11: Most 11-16 schools visited were insufficiently focused on progression to HE:

Key Finding 12: Schools’ knowledge/expertise on application to top universities not always up-to-date:

Ofsted Recommendation 1: DfE should ensure parents get annual report showing if their children are on track



Ofsted Recommendation 3: DfE should promote new destinations data on progression to (leading) universities:

Ofsted Recommendation 4: Schools should develop ethos so needs of most able are championed by school leaders

Ofsted Recommendation 5: Schools should develop skills/confidence/attitudes to succeed at best universities:

Ofsted Recommendation 6: Schools should improve primary/secondary transfer and plan KS3 lessons accordingly:

Ofsted Recommendation 7: Schools should ensure work remains challenging /demanding throughout KS3:

Ofsted Recommendation 8: Senior school leaders should check mixed ability teaching is challenging enough:

Ofsted Recommendation 9: Schools should check that homework is sufficiently challenging for most able:

Ofsted Recommendation 10: Schools should give parents of more able better infromation more frequently:

Ofsted Recommendation 10 (cont) schools should raise parents’ expectations for more able where necessary:

Ofsted Recommendation 11: Schools should work with (poor) families to overcome obstacles to HE progression:

Ofsted Recommendation 12: Schools should develop more expertise to support progression to top universities:

Ofsted Recommendation 13: Schools should publish more widely a list of university destinations of students:



Ofsted Commitment 2: Will focus inspection more on use of Pupil Premium for most able disadvantaged learners

Ofsted Commitment 3: Will report inspection findings more clearly in school, 6th form and college reports:

Ofsted has today called for a new progress measure from KS2 to KS4/5 for most able pupils:

What the Unions think of Ofsted’s Most Able Students Report – NAHT:

What the Unions think of Ofsted’s Most Able Students Report – ASCL:

What the Unions think of Ofsted’s Most Able Students Report – NUT:

What the Unions think of Ofsted’s Most Able Students Report: NASUWT –

What the Unions think of Ofsted’s Most Able Students Report – Voice:

What the Unions think of Ofsted’s Most Able Students Report – ATL:

Potential Plus (formerly NAGC) press release on Ofsted’s Most Able Pupils Report:

David Laws video response to Ofsted Most Able Students response: – no new commitments

Twigg: ‘David Cameron and Michael Gove have no plan for gifted children’: but no commitments

Review of today’s Ofsted report on most able by @pwatsonmontrose: (thanks for the links Patrick!)

Inspired by ASCL I’ve just checked what the 2012 KS2/4 Transition Matrices say about high attainers’ performance:

Apropos Ofsted’s Most Able report 2012 Transition Matrices show only 50% of KS2 L5A in Maths got GCSE A*:

Apropos Ofsted’s Most Able Students report 2012 Transition Matrices show only 47% of KS2 L5A in English got GCSE A*:

IoE reminds us that some GS have an issue with able learners (and inter-departmental variation’s also problematic):

Sutton Trust blog on today’s Ofsted report:  still wondering when we’ll hear outcome of their own call for proposals

Skidmore thinks the answer is setting (and streaming?):  Will his Select Committee explore these issues?

RT @RealGeoffBarton: From last night: ‘Pass the G&T’: my blog on a depressing day for Ofsted and state education:

This Telegraph commentary on the ‘Most Able’ Report asks whether Gove(rnment) will step up to the challenges it poses

Standard predicts that schools will introduce predictive GCSE ‘report cards’ following yesterday’s Ofsted report:

Wilby questions evidence base behind Ofsted’s ‘Most Able’ Report but this evidence shows he hasn’t read it thoroughly

Spectator insists Ofsted’s ‘Most Able’ report vindicates Govian policy: But is the challenge/support balance optimal?

RT @federicacocco: My factcheck on evidence behind Ofsted’s latest report on bright children in Comprehensive schools

And, further to Factcheck, this is what the fine level transition matrices tell us about high attainers’ progression

So What Does Gifted Mean Anyway? ID’s part of assessment; teaching to the top’s admirable and integral to ID

RT @headguruteacher: NEW POST Today: My take on the OfSTED report: The Anatomy of High Expectations

Huge thanks to everyone who promoted my megapost on Ofsted’s ‘Most Able’ Report: Especially @headguruteacher

Stephen ‘Up to two-thirds of teachers do not at heart approve of special programmes for the most able’:

Telegraph take on yesterday’s ‘Most Able’ Ofsted report:  – Nothing here about supporting schools to improve


Thematic Coverage


Intelligence and Neuroscience

Reasoning Training Increases Brain Connectivity Associated with High-Level Cognition by @sbkaufman:

A dose of realism over genetic selection for high IQ:

Two contrasting views of Obama’s new BRAIN initiative supporting neuroscience: and



A round-up of developments in working memory research:

MT @NAGCBritain: Schooling Makes You Smarter: What teachers need to know about IQ:

In Defence of Working Memory Training:

Intelligence can’t be explained by the size of one’s frontal lobes!

Yet another warning that research on the relationship between IQ and race is incendiary:

Informative piece on the pernicious influence of ‘IQ fundamentalism’ in the wake of Richwine:

The impact of transcranial random noise stimulation on cognitive function: (I kid you not)

Intelligence as a function of other people’s perceptions:

The distinctinction between intelligence and rationality:

More about eugenics and cognitive genomics:

Motion Filtering Ability Correlated to High IQ:

‘Intelligence is largely a hereditary trait’ states @toadmeister on meritocracy: That’s highly contestable

Neat post on Intelligence, Genetics and Environment drawing on Nisbett et al’s 2012 paper:

Eight ways of looking at intelligence:

Redefining Intelligence: Q and A with @sbkaufman:

MT @WendaSheard: An antidote to neuromyths perpetrated in K-12 ed conferences and publications.


Creativity and Innovation

Start with small steps when nurturing the next Van Gogh (about fostering creativity in learning):

A simply outstanding piece about domain dependency and ‘epistemic chameleons’:

Creativity lies in combining ordinary things in extraordinary ways:

OECD post on creativity: and associated Education for Innovation in Asia conference papers:

Intuition as the basis for creativity:

Profiling Serial Creators by @sbkaufman

I do so agree with this dismissal of Robinson’s TED flummery:  – gets far more attention than it deserves

Turning adversity into creative growth:

@BSheermanMP @DrSpenny I spent some time trying to get a grip on Robinson’s take on talent: – wasn’t impressed

Does education marginalise spatial thinkers?

RT @HuntingEnglish: Why We Should Mistrust Ken Robinson – Glad I’m not the only one!



The Invisible Side of ‘Special Needs’ Gifted Students:

Twice-Exceptional: When Exceptions are the Norm:

Belin-Blank presentation on Parenting Twice-Exceptional Children:

Belin-Blank has funding from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to support twice-exceptional students:

Twice-exceptional, from an Indian perspective:

Raising the Autistic Gifted Child:

Belin-Blank on twice-exceptionality:  featuring their resources


Gifted Research

You can access this morming’s study of ability grouping and summer born children here:  (link at bottom)

Here’s the associated IoE press release about the MCS ability grouping and summer born children paper:

Research showing gender differences largest in maths but smallest in reading amongst high attainers

Brown Center pieces on the incidence of ability grouping and tracking and advanced 8th Grade maths courses:

Elite Athletes Also Excel at Some Cognitive Tasks:

Why Gifted Low Income Students Don’t Go To the Best Colleges:

School makes you smarter:

Defining Mathematical Giftedness in Elementary School Settings:

US follow-up study finds similar academic growth rates for high-achieving students at high and low income schools:



How important is maths ability for scientific success?

Brand spanking new post on The Limited Accessibility of Gifted Education Research:

More on Wai’s study on the relationship between wealth and ability:

So much for 10,000 hours of deliberate practice: – hard work doesn’t deliver for everyone

The Complexity of Greatness (including more about deliberate practice) from @sbkaufman:

Are gender differences increasing in mathematical ability at the upper end?

Interesting piece of open access research (hooray) on Renzulli Learning: Relevant to other providers

2 Indian publications: Introductory Reading on Giftedness in Children Case Profiles


Gifted Commentary


Gifted Phoenix

A huge(ly ambitious) new blogpost: The Economics of Gifted Education Revisited:

@jakeanders @drbeckyallen What did you make of – What prospect of serious analysis of smart fraction from your ilk?

The @GiftedPhoenix Manifesto for Gifted Education:

MT @peter_lydon: The most important statement on Gifted education this year I’m seriously flattered. Thanks!

Peter Lydon blogs on (and reproduces) The Gifted Phoenix Manifesto for Gifted Education:

RT @peter_lydon: Special #gtie Chat on Sunday 9pm GMT ‘The Gifted Phoenix Manifesto for Gifted Education’.

Explore The Gifted Phoenix Manifesto for Gifted Education via #gtie at 21.00GMT on Sunday 24 March:

Here’s a selective, reordered Storify transcript of last night’s #gtie chat on the Gifted Phoenix Manifesto:

I’ve also included some tweets in the Gifted Phoenix Manifesto post, to give the flavour of #gtie discussion

Fascinating and troubling equally that positive reaction to my Gifted Manifesto is all from outside the UK!

Planning a 16-19 maths free school? Want to know more about the KCL or Exeter projects? Here’s some essential reading

GEI has now published the dialogue between Barry Hymer and yours truly (£) but original on my blog):

This first post in my new ‘Summer of Love’ series is mainly about Key Stage 2 Level 6 tests:



My new post is a transatlantic exploration of support for high-ability low-income learners building on US NAGC’s work

My new post on Indian Gifted Education:

I’ve finalised my brief post of yesterday about the future of Dux Awards, now renamed Future Scholar Awards


Twitter Chats

MT @gtchatmod: #gtchat transcript: Coping When Extended Family Doesn’t Get Giftedness

MT @gtchatmod: Storify transcript of #gtchat: Book Lists for Gifted Learners

RT @gtchatmod: “Do gifted learners think differently?” will be our #gtchat topic Friday @11PM UK

MT @gtchatmod: Storify record of last night’s #gtchat: Do gifted learners think differently?

MT @gtchatmod: Storify transcript of last night’s #gtchat: The Value of Twitter Chats

MT @gtchatmod: Storify transcript of last night’s #gtchat: Organising the Gifted Learner

Transcripts of yesterday’s #gtchats: and

Transcript of last week’s #gtchat on Teaching Strategies for Underachievers:

MT @gtchatmod: New post: “The Misdiagnosis Initiative: An Interview with Dr. James Webb”

RT @gtchatmod: Transcript for “Asynchronous Transitioning to Adulthood” now available @ #gtchat blog.

RT @gtchatmod: Transcript for Supporting Exhausted Parents of Gifted Children? now available @ #gtchat blog

MT @gtchatmod: Transcript from 5pm 28 June #gtchat on ‘Rigour’ now available at

RT @gtchatmod: “A Multi-Talent’s Growth with Dr. Edith Johnston” New post on #gtchat Blog!

MT @Frazzlld: Transcript from tonight’s #gtie chat (March 3):

MT @Frazzlld: Thanks, everyone, for a great #gtie chat. Here’s “The Trouble With Boys” transcript:

Transcripts of recent #gtie chats on Gifted Support Groups:  and

RT @GTNIrl: Support for Teachers of Gifted Students (#gtie transcript)

MT @CatherinaFisher: For those who missed #gtie chat on Sunday: Social Media and Gifted Education Awareness


Other Posts

RT @ljconrad: New post @GPS, “Preaching to the Choir: They Need to Hear the Message, Too!”

MT @ljconrad: “Best Practices in Gifted Parenting” is my new post @Gifted Parenting Support



Social Challenges of Gifted Adolescents:

Sorry but…Your Exceptional Child Might Not Be Gifted:

‘Studying to be Gifted’:

Gifted Kid Syndrome: – I really like the directness of this; others won’t

How to create a science prodigy (from @JonathanLWai):

Gifted Children: Skipping Grades:

Never trust a journalist who puts the word gifted in quotation marks:

The Lowest Common Denominator:

MT @ljconrad: The Socialization Question, Homeschooled and Gifted Children:

Giftedness should not be confused with mental disorder:

Using the ‘G word’ with kids:

(More on) Gifted and Racially Balanced Education:

Giftedness and Non-Conformity: – Reading that is just like looking in the mirror

Transcending Race in Gifted Programs: Are We There Yet?

Do Schools for the Gifted Promote Segregation? (I refuse to adopt the quotation marks):



MT @karlaarcher: “Giftedness and Boredom, Part Two: Tackling the Issue Head On”

MT @ljconrad: “An Educational Paradigm Shift for Low-Income Gifted Students”

Your Child is Gifted: A Parent’s Reaction:

Do GATE Programmes Take Resources Away From Needier Students?

“Live life to the fullest and rejoice in your moments of triumph because you are the best you there will ever be”:

Why is it challenging to be challenged in public schools?

Gifted Doesn’t Equal Segregation:

The Misunderstood Face of Giftedness:

Harnessing the power of social media to advocate for gifted education:

What Does ‘Gifted’ Look Like?

Australian opinion piece on gifted learners: – has more than a whiff of suspect old-fogeydom

Choosing the right college for gifted students: – much wisdom in this post

Why isn’t my child as clever as me? – nice counterbalance to parents worried about the reverse scenario



Gifted children need help too:  – a piece from South Dakota

We mustn’t neglect gifted students:  – a call to arms by P O-K and the Tennessee Association

The illusion of the gifted child:  – is actually about ways of improving gifted education

Gifted Children…how can we start?  – A blogpost from Mexico

MT @BYOTNetwork: BYOT in the Gifted Classroom: A Perfect Fit! Guest post by @abkeyser

Does the gifted label help or harm? An ongoing conversation on Reddit:

More gifted myth debunking:

Cretal reports back to Planet Zoran on Earth’s approach to education (courtesy of @sbkaufman):

Changing the label on gifted programmes: – the pros and cons

The Grown-up Gifted Child:

20 Reasons why it’s Awesome Growing Up Gifted:

Problem-based learning and gifted students (from CTD):

Paula O-K on flexible ability grouping:

Making Room for Talent:

Sharing the Gifted and Talented Curriculum:

The gifted child’s lament: How to adjust to an unjust world:

Is Talent a Defunct Concept? – Some would have you believe so but it’s more complex than that

Is divergent thinking valued in your gifted child’s classroom?

How parents can challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about giftedness: Have problems with para 3

Some teacher appreciation from Unwrapping the Gifted:

RT @Begabungs: Day 1 – Gifted Awareness Week in Germany 3rd-9th June 2013

Pros and cons of pull-out versus in-school enrichment:



The Matthew Effect in Educational Technology: (including an aside about identifying gifted learners)

RT @Begabungs: Interview with Prof. James Webb (USA)

Social Development of Gifted Children: – Highly recommended (because I agree with the analysis)

The Dichotomies of Giftedness:

RT @ljconrad: New post at Gifted Parenting Support, “Are You Nurturing Your Gifted Child?”

The Parent Challenge (NZGAW contribution from @Dazzlld and @Frazzlld):

@donnayford Hi Donna. Do you now advocate selection/ID solely on the basis of attainment? This made sense to me:

What to say to your gifted child about being gifted:

How best are the gifted lifted? Lots of common sense in this post:

24/7 Challenge (for NZ Gifted Awareness Week):

Debate on Ofsted’s Most Able Report has resonance in US and worldwide  – kudos to @ljconrad (and Tom Bennett)

Advocacy Versus Curriculum:

‘G is for Gifted and that’s good enough for me’:

RT @ljconrad: New post at GPS: “The High Ability – Gifted Conundrum”

The contribution that chess can make to gifted education (from NZGAW):

Stop underestimating children:

The gift of independent learning projects:

Is Your Child Ungifted? by @sbkaufman – Required reading for all gifted advocates:

RT @peter_lydon: Are you a gifted advocate? Add your name Find other tweeps

Choosing Your Battles (from NZGAW): – Messages for the NZ Government and Ministry of Education

Differentiating Homework for Gifted Students (from NZGAW):

Giftedness in our classrooms – removing the ceiling- an Iowa perspective:

My Gifted Education Soapbox:



Hochbegabtenforderung an Schulen mittels Blended Learning:

RT @jtoufi: Es posible un sistema educativo orientado al desarrollo del talento?

RT @jtoufi: Promover el talento en Europa: White paper from Austria

RT @jtoufi: Francoys Gagne en My Friends’ corner

Joseph Renzulli en My friends’ corner:

RT @jtoufi: Karen Rogers en My Friends’ corner

RT @jtoufi: Rena Subotnik, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius y Frank Worrell en My Friends’ corner

MT @jtoufi: Diane Montgomery en My Friends’ corner (that’s the English DM by the way)

RT @jtoufi: Que pasa en el mundo con la atencion al desarrollo de los más capaces?

RT @jtoufi: Es tiempo reconstruir la educacion que queremos: Talento, Escuela, Tecnologia

RT @jtoufi: Transforma Talento: un informe que hay que leer

RT @jtoufi: El Estado de la Nacion: o de como tomarse en serio el desarrollo del talento!

RT @jtoufi: Diferenciacion del curriculo y la instruccion. La NAGC nos lo cuenta




The Gifted Phoenix Manifesto for Gifted Education


197090_10150107967032027_677107026_6775153_1559390_nI woke last night with the conviction that I should draw up a basic credo, setting out some core principles derived from the experience of writing this blog.

I have set aside all questions of terminology, definition and identification because they are inherently divisive and attract disproportionate attention. Let us suspend disbelief for a moment and assume that we can work together through broad consensus on such matters.

There is a strong economic focus because that is a current predilection – and because the economic arguments are too rarely advanced and often underplayed. They deserve to be paramount in our current financial predicament. I plan to revisit soon the economic case for gifted education. [NB: That post appears here.]

So…What do you support? Where do you disagree? What have I missed?



Why Invest in Gifted Education?

Gifted education is about balancing excellence and equity. That means raising standards for all while also raising standards faster for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Through combined support for excellence and equity we can significantly increase our national stock of high level human capital and so improve economic growth.

High achievers are needed to feed the STEM pipeline and contribute to other areas of the ‘knowledge economy’ which is becoming increasingly important as a consequence of globalisation.

While STEM and IT have an obvious value, it is a mistake to assume that some fields do not contribute to human capital. There are important spillover benefits to society from many fields where the contribution to economic growth is less pronounced. We should avoid the temptation to prioritise STEM above all else.

Excellence in gifted education is about maximising the proportion of high achievers reaching advanced international benchmarks (eg PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS) so increasing the ‘smart fraction’ which contributes to economic growth

Equity in gifted education is about narrowing (and ideally eliminating) the excellence gap between high achievers from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds (which may be attributable in part to causes other than poverty). This also increases the proportion of high achievers, so building the ‘smart fraction’ and contributing to economic growth.

Countries that invest systematically in developing high level human capital recognise that this process begins in compulsory education or even in pre-school education. It cannot be delayed until higher education and employment. They have well-developed national gifted education programmes to secure system-wide engagement in maximising high achievement.

We can estimate:

  • The financial benefits of narrowing the excellence gap and
  • The impact on economic growth (GDP) of increasing the smart fraction

The cost of gifted education can be offset against these significant benefit streams to justify the investment and quantify the net value.

There are also microeconomic benefits to gifted education – the personal rate of return on high achievement – as well as a potentially significant contribution to social mobility on the equity side. There are many other strong arguments in favour of investment in (potential) high achievers built on educational, ethical and personal development grounds.


What Needs Doing? How?

What form should a national investment in gifted education take?

There should be integrated support for learners, educators and parents/carers, to maximise the benefits from synergy between these streams.

Five areas of engagement should also be synergised: learning, professional development, advocacy, research and policy-making.

System-wide solutions should not be exclusively ‘top down’ because they tend to be overly prescriptive, demotivating and inhibit innovation.

But neither should solutions be exclusively ‘bottom up’ because they tend towards competition (rather than collaboration), fragmentation, patchiness of provision and the recycling of mediocrity.

Solutions must draw on the best of both top-down and bottom-up strategies through a middle way that:

  • Provides a universal, unifying ‘flexible framework’ that sets common standards and applies to every setting;
  • Nevertheless gives settings sufficient autonomy within a common framework to innovate, develop and implement diverse approaches;
  • Effectively promotes and supports system-wide collaboration, within and across the three populations and five areas of engagement mentioned above.

A Twenty-First Century learning environment is multi-faceted and multimedia. Whether we are learning in school or as adult lifelong learners, we no longer rely exclusively on didactic teaching in a classroom environment.

School teachers are facilitators, helping gifted learners to synthesise different strands into a coherent learning package. Out-of-school learning must be fully integrated with the school experience; bolt-on enrichment has limited value.

Enrichment, extension and acceleration are overlapping concepts. All three can be combined effectively in different proportions according to learners’ needs. Gifted learners have relatively little in common and widely different needs. It follows that personalised provision is essential.

Social networking and social media can play a very important part in efficiently supporting system-wide collaboration by linking together the wider gifted education community – not just educators but parents/carers, learners, governors, researchers and so on.

Open access to research helps ensure that our collective stock of knowledge about effective gifted education can be shared freely, rather than being rationed or confined to subsets of the community. The existing stock of research must be made more accessible.

Freely available learning opportunities and professional development resources should also be systematically curated and disseminated. Different parts of the gifted education community can develop new learning, knowledge and understanding through their interaction with these resources. Service providers can advertise their wares to potential customers and identify opportunities for partnership and collaboration.

It is not always necessary to develop solutions specific to gifted education if effective generic solutions are already in place. There are strong arguments in favour of integration rather than silo-based provision.

But generic improvements to the education system – eg raising the quality of teaching, investing in school improvement – will not inevitably bring about improvements in gifted education, or such improvements may be less significant or take longer to accrue than those achieved through targeted intervention.

Success depends on active engagement across the system. It involves confronting ideological resistance and striving to find mutually acceptable ways forward. Support for gifted learners must never be at the expense of other learners within the system but, equally, gifted learners have an equal right to such support.

Success also depends on inclusive collaboration amongst the gifted education community. We must set aside fundamental disagreements over the nature and direction of gifted education to achieve the common purpose outlined above.

We must move away determinedly from the disagreements, factions, cliques, petty rivalries, self-promotion and empire-building that characterise the community and work co-operatively together for the benefit of all gifted learners. Everyone’s contribution must be welcomed and valued.

Despite the benefits for national economic growth, this is a global endeavour. We must work across national boundaries, avoiding the temptation to focus exclusively in our own jurisdictions. No country has a monopoly on good practice; every country can learn learn from the experience of others.

The gifted education community is a very broad church, but there is greater strength in unity than in a fragmented approach.


Kew Gardens courtesy of Gifted Phoenix

Kew Gardens courtesy of Gifted Phoenix



Postscript 1: A Vision for Delivery

A few weeks have passed and I have been reflecting again on how we might bring about improvements in line with the Manifesto. The following material was prepared with an eye to the UK (GT Voice) but should hopefully be relevant to other countries, as well as to continents (EU Talent Centre) and the global context (World Council).

It is the current iteration of an argument I have been promulgating since 2010, but it is still very much a ‘work in progress’.  I’ve even been tinkering with the words since I first published it!

My vision, set in the UK national context, is one in which:

  • All learning settings and providers of gifted education need ready access to a universal national network that supports their efforts to continuously improve their quality of service, making it the best that it can be. There should be a ‘one stop shop’ where they can go for help to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses, to build on the strengths and rectify the weaknesses.
  • Learning settings need this network to collaborate in developing effective practice and sharing it as widely as possible. But it should be equally inclusive on the supply side. All providers of gifted education services should be strongly encouraged to join it, in recognition that remaining outside will weaken our collective, collaborative effort to meet fully the needs of all gifted learners. The network should be equally welcoming to, and inclusive of, learners themselves, parents/carers, researchers and policy-makers.
  • The network should be developed on ‘flexible framework’ principles as set out above. A set of universal core standards would be drafted, consulted on and adopted. All parties would commit to them. They would be framed so as to embody the essential underpinnings of effective practice at all levels of the system, across all learning settings and up to national (and even international) engagement. They would be deliberately flexible, to permit innovation and adaptation or adjustment to meet particular needs and circumstances. Subsets of the network would be able to develop and promulgate their own badged models, but all would need to comply with this core framework. It would be kept under review and adjusted as necessary on a cyclical basis. Negotiation of the framework would be a critical exercise in consensus-building across all stakeholders.
  • In the initial stage of development, the network would support a primarily market-driven approach. Providers of services would advertise their wares and settings their needs. The purpose of the network would be to match-make between the demand and supply sides, giving the demand side access to more choice and the supply side access to more potential customers. (The model recognises that the demand and supply sides are not mutually exclusive, in that many learning settings will also be providers of services to others outside those settings.)
  • Collaboration would involve the elimination of existing ‘closed shop’ arrangements whereby some settings can only choose from specified providers, and the restrictive practices that mean many smaller providers are frozen out by larger organisations’ use of  ‘approved’ consultants and sub-contractors. It would no longer be acceptable to rig the market in this way.
  • Over time, the network would transition towards a more coherent approach, enabling settings with common issues to learn with and from each other without any geographical or sectoral restrictions and service providers to offer a seamless package of high quality support to all regardless of their sector or location (while also protecting a degree of choice for settings when selecting providers).
  • The network might develop a core administrative function that all service providers could draw on in return for an annual  subscription. This would enable it to have its own staff resource, which it would need to set up and maintain the network. (These functions cannot be managed without a dedicated human resource.) This income flow could generate savings for providers by eliminating duplication and generating economies of scale.
  • Over time the network might also develop a small tranche of its own core services, such as an annual conference, publications for sale outside the network, consultancy services to third parties (eg abroad). These should cover the network’s costs, so that it can become entirely self-sufficient, but should not be developed beyond this point, otherwise the network becomes a direct competitor to the service providers it exists to serve.
  • Such a network would have significant development and running costs, up to the point where it achieved self-sufficiency. Initial development costs would have to be secured through a combination of fundraising, sponsorship, advertising revenue and/or bids for support from appropriate funding pots.
  • In the first instance, prior to establishment of an administrative core and network services, running costs might be met by a small annual subscription paid by each learning setting and each provider belonging to the network. The annual flow of benefits to every member should be greater than the cost of this subscription.
  • Light touch monitoring would be needed to ensure that all settings receive the quality of service to which they are entitled and all providers avoid the temptation to carve up the market for their own benefit. Sanctions would need to be agreed. Any escalation would be handled within the network rather than by a third party.
  • The network would operate on a ‘blended’ basis combining a sophisticated online dimension – conducted on social networking principles – with a more traditional face-to-face element. The social networking component is critical to sustaining a fully national network at relatively low cost.
  • The network would also operate as a vehicle for collaborative advocacy, research and policy development. One early project might be to draw together the full range of stakeholder interests to develop a ‘gifted curriculum’ which English school settings might introduce in place of the national curriculum (if they have that freedom) or alongside the prescribed programme of study (if they have not). This would define what the very strongest learners might achieve and then strive to bring as many learners as possible as close as possible to that outcome. 

This is admittedly an idealistic vsion. It should be achievable, but only through sustained and determined collaborative effort. Providers with an existing market niche would need to be prepared to abandon all protectionism. The biggest potentially have furthest to fall, so vested interests are powerful and will be hardest to overcome.

All of us would need to be aware that, if the network was perfectly successful, there would no longer be any need for separate fiefdoms in the territory. Some organisations might go to the wall, but the overall quality of gifted education would improve almost immeasurably as a consequence.


Postscript 2: Comments on the Original Text

I am most grateful to colleagues who have taken the trouble to comment positively on this text, whether via the comments facility below or via Twitter and Facebook.

We have also had some interesting discussions on Facebook about the economic justification for gifted education which I have reproduced below for ease of reference.

Facebook 1 Capture

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Postscript 3: #gtie chat on the Manifesto, Sunday 24th March 2013

The original text of the Manifesto has been featured on the Gifted and Talented Ireland Blog and on Twitter in a #gtie chat on Sunday 24th March 2013.



The full transcript of the chat can be found here.

I have also published my own selective transcript on Storify, with the Tweets reordered so the conversation is easier to follow.

It is unfortunately no longer possible to embed a Storify product on a wordpress-hosted blog, but here are a few contributions to give you the flavour of the discussion. Apologies if this doesn’t cover everyone’s contribution to what was a really helpful discussion.

For further reflections on the chat, including some very kind words about this Blog, please see:

  • this Review on the Gifted and Talented Network Ireland Blog and
  • this post on the Irish Gifted Education Blog.

I really am very grateful for their positive feedback and support.

I’m going to reflect awhile before attempting another edit of the Manifesto. Please don’t hesitate to use the comments facility below if you have further views, suggested contributions or ideas for how the Manifesto might be put to good use.


























March 2013

Gifted Phoenix Twitter Round-Up: Volume 11


This is the latest in my regular series of periodic records of @Gifted Phoenix activity on Twitter.

These now appear on a quarterly-cum-termly basis and this edition covers the period from 21 November 2012 to 22 February 2013 inclusive.

The post includes almost everything I have published about giftedness and gifted education, as well as most of my coverage of wider education policy here in England (where that is relevant in some way to gifted learners).

I have organised the material as follows:

  • Giftedness and Gifted Education Around the World: there is a global section and one for each continent;
  • UK Gifted News and Developments;
  • Gifted Themes, including Intelligence and Neuroscience, Creativity and Innovation, Twice-exceptional,  Gifted Research, Gifted Education Commentary and Giftedness Commentary;
  • English Education – Related Issues, including Curriculum, Assessment and Accountability, International Comparisons, Social Mobility and Fair Access, Disadvantage and Narrowing Gaps, Selection and Independent Sector, Miscellaneous Issues and Research

As always I have had to use some discretion in placing tweets into categories. Some would fit in two or more different sections (and, on odd occasions, I have included the same tweet under two categories).

I have tried to preserve a fairly chronological order in each section, but have grouped some tweets that are obviously linked. There is a handful of retweets and modified tweets originated by others but, otherwise, these are all my own work. I have not included tweets of mine which have been modified or retweeted by others.

I have not checked if all the hyperlinks remain live, but apologies on behalf of the source if any prove moribund.

The photographic counterpoint is provided by pictures taken at Kew Gardens on a perfect early Spring day.


Kew Gardens February 2013 by GiftedPhoenix

Kew Gardens February 2013 by GiftedPhoenix


Giftedness and Gifted Education Around the World


Global Gifted

Strong European presence amongst the keynotes for the rearranged World Conference plus Tracy Riley from NZ:

But much of World Conference keynote programme is replication of ECHA 2012 and other recent events. Little new

There don’t seem to be any direct flights from London to Louisville: – in case you’re determined to attend

The current World Council Executive Committee and link to details of nomination process:

IYGC 2013- On Celebrating International Year of Giftedness and Creativity (WCGTC)

Latest World Council Newsletter:

Khan Academy shifting towards talent ID: Big message there for specialist gifted education providers

@JonathanLWai in conversation with Khan about (inter alia) how Khan Academy can support gifted education

Will 2013 see the launch of more ‘MOOCs for kids’?

International Conference on Giftedness and Creativity (ICGC) 2014 in Lebanon (new website)

On the Linguistics Olympiad:


Africa Gifted

Brief report on a gifted education workshop organised by the Nigerian National Mathematical Centre:

No. Kencelebs are new to me too. More information here (but very few names):


Americas Gifted

Derek Browne of Entrepreneurs in Action is busy in Barbados: It aims to be world’s top entrepreneurial hub by 2020

Identifying gifted students in Canada:

New report on the Status of PE in the USA: – recommends 225 minutes per week in middle and high schools

Looks like expansion at CTY given some of these new posts:

Gifted education jobs: Notre Dame of Maryland University seeks a specialist Assistant Professor:

Unwrapping the Gifted’s report of Day 1 of the US NAGC convention: – mostly Common Core

Excellent review of day 2 of the US NAGC Convention from Unwrapping the Gifted:

Day 3 of the US NAGC convention:

Another review of the US NAGC Convention of recent memory:

Assouline will replace Colangelo as Director of the Belin-Blank Center at University of Iowa:

Tennessee Governor’s School faces a 26% budget cut but survives:

Review of a new book on PEG at Mary Baldwin College:

This blog is publishing weekly round-ups of gifted education news and resources:

Another feature on the Renzulli  Gifted and Talented Academy in Connecticut:

Criticism of NYC’s gifted testing regime continues:

Duke TIP signs collaborative agreement with Shiv Nadar University to develop Indian gifted education:

Duke TIP and Shiv Nadar University to co-host a February 2013 Conference for Indian gifted educators:

More on the US-Indian collaboration between Duke TIP and Shiv Nadar University:

New blog up – My experience at TAGT 2012 –

Blogpost offering extended interview with a college counsellor from the IEA:

Downward mobility in US: – reinforces case for gifted education focused more on equity issues

What is your understanding of the Measures of Academic Progress?

Gifted jobs: University of Northern Colorado seeks an Assistant Professor: Gifted and Talented –

US Office for Civil Rights Report 2009-12: – includes securing fair access to gifted programmes

Colangelo retrospective on his imminent retirement: and my assessment of Belin-Blank:

Colangelo signs off at Belin-Blank:

Denver Post article: Are gifted and special-needs students being left behind?:

“#Gtchat at the TAGT Conference 2012″ Blog post with pictures!

You can revisit the great resources @brianhousand shares at conferences on his website

New Yong Zhao essay on TIMSS and PISA:

NYC U-turns on sibling preferences in gifted programme: and  and

Overcoming Underrepresentation in Gifted Programs – Ken Dickson:

Gifted Education in the United States:

More grist to the mill for those concerned about gifted education in NYC:

Critical commentary on that NY Times article about gifted education in NYC:

Chester Finn misses the point over identification processes in NYC’s gifted programme:

It’s Gifted Education Month in Alabama:

What do International Tests Really Show About US Student Performance?  -Edweek on same:

New Year, New Sustainability Strategy: New blog post from the Asynchronous Scholars’ Fund

Sheldon will develop You Tube’s ‘Prodigies’ for TV: – well the actor Jim Parsons will!

Georgia spends 300 times more on gifted education than Alabama:

More about gifted education in Alabama:

‘Why are our gifted and talented classes full of Asians?’

‘Gifted, Talented and White’ (from Santa Barbara, California):

More about the Renzulli Academy Hartford, Conn (USA) and plans for expansion elsewhere in the State:

Big list of upcoming gifted education webinars stateside:

Davidson Institute eNews Update January 2013:

Overcoming under-representation in gifted programmes part 2:

(US) States Differ in Defining, Supporting Gifted Students:

THE report on affirmative action in US university admissions:

Imbalance in gifted education programmes in Denver Colorado:

How segregated gifted programmes are hurting America’s poorest students:

A new bill to improve the quality of gifted education in Missouri:

MT @teachfine: Are you ready for our social media blitz to advocate for gifted? It’s today!

US districts experiment with partial homeschooling for gifted learners:

Details of Wenda Sheard’s SENginar: ‘Bootcamp for Determined Advocates’ on 16 March:

NYT article about the ongoing debate on (gifted education) testing and coaching in NYC:

News from Belin-Blank:

You can download several presentations from the California Association for the Gifted 2013 Conference here:

New Jersey’s gifted programmes are feeling the squeeze:

US NAGC seeks a Parent Services and Communications Manager:  – JD refers only to monitoring social media

NYC’s Gifted and Talented Dilemma: A Window into the Utility of Psychometric Testing:

Direct link to US Excellence and Equity Commission Report: ‘For Each and Every Child’:


Kew Gardens 2 February 2013 by Gifted Phoenix

Kew Gardens 2 February 2013 by Gifted Phoenix


Asia Gifted

Israeli Gifted education parts One: ;Two: ; and Three:

Feature on the Technion Sparks programme supporting Israel’s gifted Druse students:

Shortish feature on young ballet dancers from the Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts:

Singapore will no longer identify the top scorers in the PLSE and public examinations:

HKAGE’s 2013 Hotung Lecture features Yun Dai and Yan Kong on Chinese + Western approaches to gifted:

HKAGE Research Note: Towards a Multifaceted Understanding of Gifted Underachievement:

Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education (HKAGE) annual Hotung Lecture features Yun Dai and Yan Kong:

Report on the Malaysian Gifted Education Conference 2012:

Poor TIMSS results in Malaysia: – this blogger says the Government is strangely silent

Memory and Cognitive Strategies of High Ability Students in a Rural (Malaysian) Secondary School:

Malaysian Nobelist Mindset Programme via @noorsyakina and and

SABIC is sponsoring scholarships for Saudi Mawhiba participants to pursue undergraduate study abroad:

The Saudis have been back to WKU:

Last in a tetralogy of Asian Tiger posts, here’s Taiwan Parts One: and Two


Australasia Gifted

Feature on gifted education in New Zealand, especially the NZAGC:

The Kiwis also agonise over TIMSS and PIRLS: – ‘wake-up calls’ the world over!

Feature on giftedness and gifted education out of Otago, New Zealand:

The gifted label should be permanently retired according to Otago IT entrpreneur (and ex-dentist!):

Brief article about upcoming NZAGC Annual Conference:

NZ research survey: top students uncomfortable being called “gifted”:

Gifted Resources November Newsletter No2 can be read online at

Gifted Resources December Newsletter has been posted at

Gifted Resources January 2013 newsletter can be read online at

Gifted Resources February newsletter can be read online at

Re-cataloguing Gifted Resources library 2

PWC has estimated the effect on Australian national productivity of educational improvement to Finnish level Aus$ 3.6tn

Early entry to university expands in New South Wales:

Victoria Australia will accept most of the recommendations in critical report on its gifted education

Government response to Victorian Inquiry into Education of Gifted Students

Article from Australia on the Victorian Government inquiry into gifted education:

That was the year that was 2012 for Sprites Site: – Many thanks Jo!

Did you miss: In Memoriam Edna McMillan from @LesLinks:

Notre Dame University in WA has been running a Cultural Decoding programme for the state’s gifted students:

Our obsession with national talent is harming students – Australian-based discussion:

Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians has extended its reach to Hong Kong:

Australian Curriculum gifted students’ guidance: – A useful comparator for English National Curriculum

Article on NSW’s Best Start Gifted and Talented Kindergarten Resource  Package:  – Here:


Europe Gifted

If you live in an EU country do please lobby your MEP to sign this declaration on talent support:

Written Declaration on Supporting Talent in the EU: so far signed by 84 MEPs:

84 signatures on that Written Declaration on Supporting Talent in EU -Time for MEPs to pull their fingers out!

New post (as promised) examining progress in the European Talent Initiative:

Help to discover and develop talents in Europe

Reminding all MEPs to please sign the WD on European Talent Support: – deadline 19 February

You can petition your MEPs about European Talent Support here:

Looks as though the Written Declaration on supporting talent in the EU (0034) will lapse:

It’s official: European Parliament Written Declaration on Talent Support has lapsed (it got 178 signatures):

Just found online an agenda for a public hearing last month on the Written Declaration on talent:

@jtoufi has blogged today about this new Opinion on gifted from the European Economic and Social Committee:

@jtoufi ‘s original post (in Spanish) is here  Link at end of EESC page to full Opinion

Here’s a short summary of the European Parliamentary Hearing on gifted education I mentioned recently:

Tumbleweed’s also blowing at European Talent Centre dormant since my December post

An interview with Peter Csermely largely about ECHA:

Csermely inteview from Gifted and Talented Ireland – Will the 2013 EU Talent Conference be there or Lithuania?

Lykkelige Barn: – a Norwegian parent’s experience courtesy of @Kariekol

Danskene vil vite mer om evnerike barn. Vil ikke vi? (from @Kariekol in Norway):

Ogg tak for det gamle: (review of 2012 from @Kariekol in Norway)

Todo esta escrito.

No te pierdas esta entrada, puede ser importante

Talento y Educacion :: Javier Touron: El modelo de los tres anillos  e

El Revolving Door Identification Model

No estan todos los que son… pero donde estan?

Que pasa cuando identificamos en un centro educativo?

Las escalas de rendimiento en PIRLS-TIMSS: mas alla de la media (I)

Las escalas de rendimiento en PIRLS-TIMSS: mas alla de la media (y II)

El modelo de identificacion Talent Search: una introduccion

Los principios pedagogicos del Talent Search:

El corazon del Talent Search: el “Out of Level”

Todo esta escrito. Enero 2013

El Talent Search: un mensaje para las escuelas

Es el Talent Search un modelo americano? La experiencia en Espana

El Talent Search a traves de los anos

KhanAcademy. Una revolucion a coste cero!

Feature on the Maximilianeum in Munich, Bavaria:

Good news: Our center will lease out virtual offices for other gifted centres around the world.

Report on progress in gifted education in both Turkey and Kosovo:

Congratulations to @Dazzlld and @Frazzlld for making it into the Guardian!

An ‘Offtopicarium’ on gifted education with a Polish complexion:

How to Help a Gifted Child? article in French magazine, Journal des Femmes :

Support and Education of Gifted Students in Poland:

How Finland Serves Gifted and Talented Pupils:

Gifted Education In Ireland:

The Gifted and Gifted Education in Hungary:

“Gifted Education in the Netherlands”

Acerca superdotacion y talento ( page):

Hai sa facem si noi ceva!.Maria si Paul vorbesc clar (supradotati in Romania)

Young, Gifted and Roma (podcast): – from the Council of Europe

The Slovenians also knew about that European Parliamentary Hearing:

The Austrians have published an English translation of their 2011 White Paper: Promoting Talent and Excellence


Kew Gardens 3 February 2013 by GiftedPhoenix

Kew Gardens 3 February 2013 by GiftedPhoenix


UK Gifted News and Developments

Gender imbalance revealed in Cambridge Chemistry Challenge:

Direct link to CBI’s First Steps Report: – demands stronger focus on individual needs, including gifted

CBI report complains of insufficient challenge for able children from disadvantaged backgrounds: (p 22)

CBI: competitors like Singapore ‘have a clearly articulated approach towards gifted and talented’ (p 25):

Can’t find anti-bullying report re hiding talents cited here: but questionnaire is here:

Making progress with my blog’s key documents library: – all help and feedback gratefully received

Pro-gifted parental rant against phonics: – though last time I checked Joan Freeman wasn’t a ‘literacy expert’

Laws to LGA: ‘We now need to move to a system…That includes stretching the most able’:

Musical chairs at IGGY: the erstwhile content adviser’s now MD; previous incumbent looks after ‘partnerships’

And IGGY’s staff complement is now 19. Add in the Guardian adverts and that’s a lot of income to generate:

IGGY is advertising free trial memberships for Warwickshire students:

When I last checked it was FULL free IGGY membership for all in Warwickshire/Coventry schools:

Final post of the year is an in-depth review of IGGY, the International Gateway for Gifted Youth

@naceuk says it’s a partner of @iggywarwick – but IGGY only admits to a water company and the National Grid

IGGY is running a better conference this year: – but sadly @GiftedPhoenix is still frozen out of proceedings

I haven’t been invited (again). I presume that @iggywarwick have ‘sent me to Coventry’ (ha ha):

Undeterred by Milburn, DfE continues Dux Awards Scheme in 2013 – – some 20% of secondaries took part in 2012

New Dux Scheme Press Notice: – Laws now in the lead and the 2013 target’s to involve 2000 schools

The OU-led Future Learn MOOC press release/briefing note: – excellent news for school-age gifted learners

DfE Pupil Premium case study features support for Paignton Community College’s gifted and talented programme:

Here’s a short but timely new post on High Attainers in the 2012 Primary School Performance Tables:

My analysis of high attainers in the Primary League Tables: Can anyone source national KS1APS data defining this group?

Gifted Phoenix Blog: 2012 Review and Retrospective:

You might have missed: The MENSA ‘carrot’ moment: plus apology:

Her Majesty gives gifted teenager the Complete Works: – Apparently a ‘surreal’ and ‘bizarre’ one-off

Realities and myths of children with high learning potential

Sutton Trust planning support for gifted disadvantaged with UCL and Kent academies says @conorfryan:

Martin Stephen’s doing a gifted education talk in Milton Keynes: – when will his research study be published?

The role of technology in gifted education: Can you help me to pin down the core issues?

Just completed the Guardian Chat on technology and gifted education, see the record here:

SSAT is getting back into gifted and talented: – doesn’t say who’s leading the sessions

GT Voice Bulletin February 2013 Edition: – Announces upcoming meetings on future of gifted education

“The Department does not collect information about gifted and talented young athletes in schools”: (Col 332W)

No pictures yet but some fascinating data (I hope) in my new post on High Attainers in the Secondary Performance Tables

More on Ofsted’s upcoming report on our most able pupils: – and my analysis of the data:

Yesterday’s super-timely blog post looking at the secondary/KS5 performance table data for high attaining students:

I’ve added a brief postscript on Ofsted plans for an imminent gifted survey to the end of this post:

Registration open for 2nd round of Dux Award Scheme: – Haven’t yet seen any response to Milburn’s sideswipe

References to inadequate progress by more able pupils are peppered throughout Estyn’s Annual Report 2011/12:

Elite young footballers burn out before they leave school:

Koshy and Casey on English Gifted Education: – I’d say 80% good and accurate

The very British shame of having a clever child

Whatever happened to Sutton Trust support for highly able

learners? (see end). Have I missed an announcement?

Potential Plus (ex NAGC) launches under its new name today

Interestingly, Gove’s SMF speech includes a lament that the Dux Scheme has been unpopular:

Delighted Ofsted’s challenging failure to use Pupil Premium with disadvantaged high attainers but can’t find the report

Congratulations to Potential Plus UK:

Ofsted to prepare landmark ‘rapid response’ report on English gifted and talented education: Wonderful news!

My blog post concludes that upcoming Ofsted survey on highly able will need to look carefully at NC reforms:

Can any Ofsted readers explain why there’s been no official announcement of your gifted education survey?

Eastleigh Tory candidate says state schools can’t educate her gifted son: and:

More on the ‘son too smart for state school gaffe’: – There’s been a storm on Twitter apparently

Liberals more worried whether Hutchings row will rebound on Clegg while Dale plays the autism card

Hutchings gaffe gave Libs/Lab a great platform to set out gifted education policies, but the cupboard is bare

Really important reminders in Ofsted’s Pupil Premium Report to target gifted disadvantaged learners:


Kew Gardens 4 February 2013 by Gifted Phoenix

Kew Gardens 4 February 2013 by Gifted Phoenix


Gifted Themes


Intelligence and Neuroscience

Perfect Saturday reading – an academic paper about Einstein’s brain:

Willingham urges caution in the application of neuroscience to education:

A blogpost on metacognition:

Neuroscience fiction:

The Neuroscience of Creativity (featuring Greenfield’s work):

Daniel Willingham has begun a week-long series on how neuroscience can be applied to resolve educational problems:

Second in Willingham’s series about positive uses of neuroscience in education:

Third of five in the Willingham Neuroscience series:

4th and penultimate episode in Willingham’s Neuroscience series:

Part 5 and coda to the Willingham neuroscience series: and

On Brains and Brilliance:

Math ability requires crosstalk in the brain:

How education hijacked brain research – some governments already considering brain training programmes

Working memory is a better test of ability than IQ:

Fractionating Human Intelligence (courtesy of @sbkaufman):

Independent’s summary: of the Fractionating Human intelligence paper:

New intelligence-related articles on top-end Flynn effect: and nature of intelligence:

Are we more or less intelligent than in the past?

More on motivation, IQ and maths:

Can Everyone Become Highly Intelligent? (thanks to @SurrealAnarchy ):

The Future of Intelligence:

On Neuroscience in Education via the OUP Blog:

Csikzentmihalyi – don’t go with the flow!

Working memory training does not live up to the hype:

A Genetic Code for Genius? via @WSJ


Creativity and Innovation

PISA’s Schleicher: ‘schooling now needs to be much more about…creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving’ (TES):

Grounding Creative Giftedness in the Body, from @sbkaufman

Current state of play on the Science of Creativity:

The Characteristics of Highly Creative People:

Creative Intelligence:

OECD working paper by Lucas, Claxton and Spencer on the assessment of creativity in schools:



SEN Magazine feature on dual and multiple exceptionality by Denise Yates of NAGC:

Aspie cult goes underground: – who wants to be part of a spectrum when you can have your own syndrome?

TES report on segregation of SEN learners: and link to the new IoE Report it references:

Education Select Committee has published uncorrected oral evidence on SEN:


Gifted Research

Extensive Gifted Education Research round-up from Ireland: and with a perfect final paragraph!

Full working paper: Conscientiousness Education and Longevity of High Ability Individuals – Savelyev:

The impact of motivation (relative to IQ) on achievement in maths:  (summary only)

The impact of high self-esteem on educational achievement is limited at best:

A pretty definitive study on relationship of self-esteem, academic self-concept and attainment:

The full text of the Marsh/OMara paper is available free at the bottom of this page:

Turkish Journal of Giftedness and Education: Vol 2.2, December 2012 edition:

Willingham on measurement of non-cognitive factors:

Lots more on the assessment of non-cognitive variables (Sedlacek):

“High Ability & Learner Characteristics” International Journal of Instruction 2013

Willingham on ‘How to Make a Young Child Smarter’: and the full article via @sbkaufman

I’m building an open access gifted education research repository on my blog called OpenGate Tweet me some links

How friendship networks can influence academic achievement: link to full paper by Blansky et al:

Does Athletic Success Come at the Expense of Academic Success?

The Shift from Cohorts to Competency (Digital Learning Now paper):


Gifted Education Commentary

Q. What can we learn from international best practice in gifted education?  – A. Much from careful scrutiny

G&T Policy Choices for Schools: – Transcript of last night’s #gtie chat

How You Can Help the Genius in the Classroom:

Gifted Exchange encourages discussion on use of gifted learners as peer tutors:

Homework torture for some gifted students:

Transcript from tonight’s chat, Dear Teacher, My child is gifted and…

Review of last week’s #gtie chat: – this week’s tonight (Sunday) at 21.00 UK time

G&T School Policy Choices for Schools:

A bunch of strategies (13 actually) supporting academic motivation:

New post at GPS: “Teachers Partnering with Parents”:

Reading “Gifted Education and New Year’s Resolutions” on Smart Girl Politics:

Interested in gifted education? Some great info in the last few #gtie chats of 2012:

Mindsets and Gifted Education: Transformation in Progress:

The Quill Guy has been posting about gifted and talented writing projects:

#gtchat transcript of “Special Guest – Rebecca McMillan Director of Online Education at GHF” at

New blog: ‘Gifted Mathematics – Learn How to be Successful in Mathematics Competitions Worldwide’:

Advice for New Gifted Education Specialists

The Gifted Elementary Pupil. How to spot and how to support them:

#gtchat transcript: Instructional Strategies for Gifted Education

‘Calculating the Return on Investment in Gifted Education’:

Using creating challenge and mindmap to consider 2013 activities for Gifted Resources

Storify record of #gtchat: Guest, Dr. Joy Lawson Davis and “Diversity in Gifted Education

New Post – Differentiating for Gifted students

Join the Gifted Education Outreach Corps:

What’s Wrong With Being Smart? More squabbles over the excellence/equity balance in gifted education

STEM is Gifted Education:

Another page: ‘Methods and Materials for Gifted Education’:

RT @cybraryman1: My Identifying Gifted sites (see NAGC What is Giftedness):

Building a Gifted Education PLN:  #gtchat transcript: and associated blog post:

Yesterday’s PBL #gtchat transcript: and blog post:


Giftedness Commentary

Ten myths about gifted students and programmes for the gifted:

Transcript of When Parents Push Too Hard

Gifted children: How to know if we are pushing too hard:

New post at GPS, “A Disturbance in the Force” – including reference to UK NAGC name change

Being Gifted is Something to Celebrate:

Missed our last #gtchat, “When Parents Push Too Hard”? Check out our blog,

Why Your Gifted Teen May Act Anything but Gifted:

Defining giftedness and its goals (from Duke):

First-time gtchatters: Check out the the transcript from ‘Building Connections with #gtchat ‘

Transcript for tonight’s #gtie chat. Scroll to 21:00 for start:

Gifted, talented: Entitled to be Exceptional (@DouglasEby):

Why Some Gifted Individuals Don’t Love a Party:

Mythillogical: Belief versus the reality of giftedness:

Global #gtchat – the Year Ahead Storify Transcript

New post @ our blog! ‘Global #gtchat – the Year Ahead’

Transcript for last night’s #gtie chat:  Summary to follow later in the week, I hope!

Gifted Kids at Risk: Who’s Listening?

Learn about #gtchat from our guest blog post at MyTownTutors

Parenting Gifted Children:

The Norm Can Blow It Out Its Ear #gtie discusses gifted adults

Lance the Myths of Giftedness A response by @peter_lydon to @davidmcw’s piece on talent

Gifted Children and the Growth Mindset

Can’t join #gtchat at our current time? ‘Like’ our Facebook Page to stay in the loop!

Transcript for tonight’s #gtie chat:

Transcript of last night’s #gtie chat:

When It’s Time to Cut your Gifted Child Some Slack:

If it’s Wednesday it must be breakfast that makes kids smarter:

Do Gifted Kids Want to be Zuckerberg Rather Than Einstein?

‘Let’s Not Call Them ‘”Gifted”‘ from a what looks to be a new Blog on the scene:

#Gtchat transcript: Fostering Parent Awareness

The term “gifted” sucks in so many ways:

If Not ‘Gifted’, What?

TED conversation on the challenges facing gifted and creative individuals:


Kew Gardens 5 February 2013 by Gifted Phoenix

Kew Gardens 5 February 2013 by Gifted Phoenix


English Education – Related Issues



Government response to Lords Science and Technology Committee Report on STEM: deemed inadequate:

Outcomes of consultation on primary MFL in the national curriculum:  – classical Latin and Greek are new options

Direct link to Chance to Shine school sports survey 54% of parents said children got less than 2 hours PE/sports a week

Continued campaign in reaction to marginalisation of dance:

Lords Oral PQ on arts in schools: (Col 1613): Hill says National Cultural Education Plan is delayed until New Year

Pollard bemoans imbalance in new National Curriculum. Cynics might say primary prescription promotes academisation:

Ofqual Report on 2011-12 National Assessment Arrangements: – Interesting commentary on new L6 tests at p26ff

Catholic bishops have decided that exclusion of RE from the EBacc affects parents’ human rights:

Direct link to Teaching About Christianity in religious education: a review of research – by Nigel Fancourt:

The accusation that the Coalition is pursuing a narrow, utilitarian curricular agenda is fertile territory for Labour:

Progress report on school-club sports links: (Col 53W)

DfE has let a contract worth £515K to Poetry Archive to run a National Poetry Recitation Competition for Years 10-13:

An item on school music notable principally for the author’s pseudonym: – explained here:

It’s a moot point whether children’s authors are best placed to decide the National Curriculum Eng Lit canon:

I assume the Burghes report for Politeia on primary maths will appear here shortly: – It’s not there yet

Yesterday’s Burghes paper for Politeia on primary maths: – comparisons with Finland, Japan and Singapore

Story on error-strewn primary NC drafts once more calls into question the process (and people?) used to draw them up:

This is a really neat website mapping the NSW curriculum: – Can we have one of those?

Summary of new Engineering Council report – wants 100% increase in numbers taking GCSE physics/triple science:

New DfE/Wellcome evaluation of the Science Learning Centre Network: – positive but warns against removing core funding

Sounds from Gove increasingly like the draft secondary NC programmes of study won’t issue until the New Year:

No sign of the APPG history report though clearly all the papers have seen it. Sigh. I assume it will be published here

National Plan for Cultural Education won’t now be published until 2013: (Col 134W)

ACME’s new Maths Report repeats the same old ACME themes: – but where is it? (they’re not the acme of early risers)

Though ACME has managed to publish a KS4 reform consultation response: – no tiering is ‘neither feasible nor desirable’

ACME’s Report from yesterday ‘Raising the Bar: Developing Able Young Mathematicians’: – a ‘critical situation’

Labour’s about to release a new School Sports Action Plan: – the talent development section will be key

Full sport-by-sport breakdown of whole sport plan funding for 2013-2017 including talent development:

“We are putting competitive sport at the heart of the new school curriculum” What does that refer to?

Government’s school sports strategy delayed until New Year by ministerial disagreements:

Ofsted School Sport Survey delayed until at least February 2013 by ‘redundancies’:

Mr Gove’s and Mr Hunt’s Party Games – on PE and school sports (courtesy of @DrDickB):

At last some common sense on Seacole: – or else convert to academy status!

Direct link to Nuffield Foundation comparative study: Towards Universal Participation in Post-16 Mathematics: 7

Is this a last ditch effort by Forgan to secure a halfway decent Cultural Education Plan? – we’re still waiting for that

Twigg: ‘we’d extend the academies’ freedoms on the national curriculum to all schools’: – New? So no NC under Labour?

Ofsted expects to publish its Report on ‘PE in Schools 2008-12’ in February 2013: (Col 805W)

Truss’s N of E Conference Speech eliminates some lacunae. Commissions Imperial to run 1 year A level teachers’ course

History Curriculum Association promotes its own curriculum to exempt academies and private schools

There’s no Ministerial Statement on National Curriculum Review today: – so Government misses its self-imposed deadline

TES Editorial is on the Government’s Janus-faced curriculum policy: – exactly why we’re still waiting for the PoS!

I do think the SMF speech tippietoes rather unconvincingly past the curricular freedom/content prescription conundrum

@EducationLabour Could you confirm if my reference to your NC policy here is correct? (Late Skirmishes section) Thanks:

Is it official Labour policy that academies’  National Curriculum freedoms would be extended to all schools?

Pending imminent National Curriculum announcements here’s Part 1 of a new post retrospecting on June 2012 to yesterday:

My blog post from last night tracing the National Curriculum review/EBC story from June 2012 to yesterday:

School sports announcement expected in next 2 weeks: – new funding, no ringfence but maybe a ‘recommendation’

During today’s EBC statement debate Labour must clarify whether they would extend academies’ NC freedoms to all schools

Ofsted on PE: all teachers should raise expectations of more able; offer challenging competitive activities:

OFSTED on PE: few schools have a balance ‘between increasing participation and generating elite performance’:

New Education Committee inquiry on School Sports post Olympics:  -submit evidence via new portal:

Science and Technology Committee Report ‘Educating tomorrow’s Engineers: impact of Government reforms on 14-19 education’:

British Psychological Society will shortly publish a report on psychology in schools:


Assessment and Accountability

@warwickmansell fisks this memorandum on the EBC: here: chokes on his tea and predicts a car crash

KS Teacher Assessment and Reporting Arrangements (TARA) 2013:

If techbac is a performance table measure, doesn’t that pre-empt the upcoming consultation on secondary accountability?

Ofqual’s EBC letter yesterday: – is likely to delay the promised December consultation on secondary accountability…

Given Ofqual’s EBC intervention: – the case for sorting accountability BEFORE sorting exams becomes much stronger

I wonder if Ofqual’s EBC letter presages adoption of explicitly PISA-linked tests for accountability purposes:

TechBacc proposals = Diploma with a new name While we’re on names, check out the working group…

Support materials for the KS2 English Grammar Punctuation and Spelling Level 6 test:

The Baker/C&G Tech Bac and the Government’s performance table Tech Bac – Nothing more than a recipe for confusion (TES)

‘Imminent’ secondary accountability consultation likely to feature more focus on KS4 average points scores: (TES)

Another post-GCSE maths option will shortly be added into the mix:

Secondary accountability consultation also postponed to January: – but is it to be ‘best 8’ GCSEs or EBacc plus?

Evaluation/consultation Report on Key Stage 4/5 Destination Measures, setting out planned changes in 2013:

Education Commitee recommends Government takes expert subject-specific advice on removal of tiering from EBC (para 61)

Education Committee “We have serious concerns about the proposed timetable for reform”:

Introduction of challenging extension papers sounds U-turnish ie exactly the opposite of untiered EBCs

Updated EBacc FAQs (post reclassification of computer science): – interesting to reflect on impact on ‘triple science’

My blog post from last night tracing the National Curriculum review/EBC story from June 2012 to yesterday:

TES reports ‘more challenging extension papers’ in GCSE maths and science for A*/A candidates:

Strong interest in my old post about implications of removing NC levels:  – grading’s still an unresolved issue tonight

Summary of KS4 reform consultation responses says 56% thought impossible across all EBC subjects:

Reports pre-empt A level reform announcement: – stand alone AS levels and Russell Group advisory board/annual reviews

Interesting to note 12 month delay on A level reforms: – that may suggest same for EBC

Classic UUK press release on A level reform: – we agree changes are needed but these aren’t quite the right ones

Gove’s letter on A levels to Ofqual now published: – but there is as yet no accompanying FAQ on the implications

Interesting idea that A level students should get separate absolute and relative grades:

1994 Group is furious too “very little consultation with the sector” AS reform “extremely concerning”

Number of students from maintained schools and sixth form colleges achieving 3+ A*/A grade A levels by year: (Col 327W)

The Ministerial Statement on A level reform: (Col 315) – AS will ‘have same content as A levels but half the breadth’

Direct link to Secondary Performance Tables 2012, just published:

SFR02/13: GCSE and equivalent results in England 2011/12 (Revised):

SFR05/2013:  A level and equivalent examination results in England (Revised):

SFR04/2013 – GCSE and Equivalent Attainment by Pupil Characteristics in England:

Uncorrected transcript of Education Select Committee oral evidence session with HMCI  on 13 February:

Basically Derby seems to have been doing a reasonable job:  – did Ofsted expect it to be less successful?


International Comparisons

You can download Pearson’s Learning Curve Report or read online at dedicated website here:

Can’t find any evidence that Pearson’s Learning Curve report takes account of high (or low) level achievement:

Conor Ryan digs beneath the surface of Pearson’s Learning Curve report and rankings:

Sutton Trust Report on the limitations of international comparisons studies: and TES on same:

Nor does latest Sutton Trust effort on PISA/TIMSS etc properly credit my source blogpost here: Grump, grump

Pleased Sutton Trust is debunking the ‘UK’s problem is solely a long tail’ myth. But footnote ref to my post is wrong:

This is the page to store in readiness for publication of TIMSS/PIRLS data at 09.00 UK time on Tuesday 11 December:

Schleicher’s explanation of differences between PISA and TIMSS/PIRLS results is a bit of a punt, to put it mildly:

A reminder that it’s TIMSS and PIRLS publication day – results appear here at 09.00 UK time:

The IEA’s TIMSS and PIRLS reports:

The TIMSS/PIRLS press notice  for completeness: – a very mixed bag indeed, so it’s hard to make any political capital

DfE’s Research brief on TIMSS for good measure: and NFER’s national report:

NFER’s National Report on PIRLS in England: – and DfE’s research brief:

Interesting to compare Duncan: and Truss: on TIMSS and PIRLS

Here’s my new post examining the Performance of High Achievers in TIMSS, PIRLS (and PISA)

Did you know that England outperformed Finland at the high achievers’ benchmarks in TIMSS and PIRLS?

Didn’t look at widening gap evidence, but Asian Tigers have many more high achievers at advanced benchmarks, see

Informative article about the impact of PISA on different national qualifications:


Kew Gardens 6 February 2013 by GiftedPhoenix

Kew Gardens 6 February 2013 by GiftedPhoenix


Social Mobility and Fair Access

BIS press notice links to new Sutton Trust research: tracking decision making of high-achieving HE applicants:

Sutton Trust is also investing in social mobility via employment in ‘Real Estate’:  – An unfortunate Americanism imho

Stupid social mobility article: – wants to substitute WP for fair access rather than pursuing both

A new Sutton Trust publication celebrating its 15th anniversary:

Sutton Trust’s new report on the education of top people: and associated press notice:

HEFCE’s revised qualifications list for the ABB high grades quasi-market in 2013-14: – Even AAC counts!

Contexualised admissions set to become universal in Scotland: – Makes OFFA seem toothless by comparison

TES projects a false dichotomy between Gove’s and Ebdon’s views on fair access They’re not irreconcilable

Careers England Survey of the Impact of Education Act 2011:

A HEFCE/OFFA progress report on a ‘national strategy for access and student success’ – Now you’re talking!

St Andrews says only 220 of 5,572 5th years from Scotland’s deprived areas managed 3 Higher A grades in 2011:

What St Andrews actually said about fair access (as opposed to the versions in this morning’s papers):

Independent careers guidance will be extended to 16-18 year-olds in colleges and Year 8 in schools. from Sept 2013:

Indy’s Lampl fan club attend the 15th anniversary shindig: – ends with some U-turn scepticism about open access

Adonis has a point, but perhaps fair access should focus a little more on elite courses rather than elite universities:

Percentage achieving 2+ A levels at A*/A by ethnic background and by local authority 2008-11:  (Dep 2012-1781)

Gibb and Gove continue the unfair campaign against OFFA’s Ebdon at Oral PQs, prompted by Adonis: (Col 580)

‘Not every aspect of the open access scheme necessarily recommends itself to the Government’ (Gove): (Col 587)

Uncorrected transcript of Hancock evidence to Education Select Committee on Careers Guidance:

Direct link to the Sutton Trust’s new personal statements research:

Ebdon response to Adonis, Gibb et al:

Sutton Trust expands its US Summer Schools: – but how do they impact on fair access here?

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission still doesn’t have its full quota of members: (Col 102W)

Direct link to the UCAS End of Cycle Report 2012: – looks positive from fair access perspective

What proportion of top students taking up degree courses in the US will return to the UK on graduation?

Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission Members finally announced; Gillian Shephard is new Vice-Chair

Series of four HE outreach for WP/fair access toolkits plus supporting material:

Higher feature on the fragmented nature of HE outreach for fair access:

Coded praise from Milburn for Gove: – He’s on the right track provided he acts on my Social Mobility Commission Report

Anonymous insider criticism of Independent v State element of Government’s own social mobility indicators

Sutton Trust blog: Moving Up the Great Gatsby Curve:

Willetts stresses gender alongside ethnicity/class in fair access: but socio-economic disadvantage is the common factor

THE draws attention to new flexibilities in ABB policy to support fair access:

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission Framework Document: (Dep 2012-1939)

McGhee HE access for white working class males article: – rather lets selective universities off the hook

Geraint Jones QC is OFFA’s newly-appointed Statutory Reviewer:

Time on Oxbridge attempts to recruit more students from poorer backgrounds (via @dlknowles)

HEFCE Grant Letter 2013-14 confirms ‘unrestrained recruitment’ extended to ABB A level grades:

Sutton Trust on outcomes of its US summer school: and – You too can attend Oglethorpe University!

HEFCE announces timetable for integrating its Widening Participation Strategic Statements with OFFA’s Access Agreements

The fair access debate unfolds in Scotland:

You can at least read OFFA’s press release: plus Ebdon commentary in THE:

Well OFFA has tried to publish its Access Agreement Guidance for 2014-15, but this link isn’t yet working:

Link to OFFA Access Agreement Guidance for 2014-15 finally working:

HEFCE guidance on National Scholarship Programme 2014-15:

This postgraduate’s case against St Hughes College Oxford has all the ingredients of a cause celebre: L

Mail previews the AAB measure due in the Secondary Performance Tables on Thursday:

“within the colleges and…managerial hierarchy there remains an undertone of elitism, privilege and exclusivity”:

His children’s education was always a ticking timebomb for Clegg given he’s the self-styled champion of social mobility

Btw, the facilitating subjects A level performance measure must have been shaped to feed this social mobility indicator

A second take on the social mobility impact of AS level reform:

Will AS level reforms have a negative impact on fair access and social mobility? – Conceivably

Russell Group cautions on the facilitating subjects measure in KS5 league tables – still studiedly silent on AS level?

Sutton Trust adds to calls to a national co-ordinating body for fair access to HE: – Spot on

HMC’s chair-elect believes only independent schools provide social mobility:  I’ve seen some warped logic in my time…

Touche Sutton Trust! John Jerrim questions reliability of international comparisons of social mobility:

Two elements of the bigger social mobility production function: resilience: and cultural capital:

Sutton Trust Report on The Postgraduate Premium: and associated Press Release:

Since reintroduction of a Cambridge entrance exam won’t help fair access, will OFFA be challenging that?:

It must be driven by the associated social mobility indicator. Don’t know who ‘invented’ that:

The latest UCAS data: and OFFA’s comment on same:

OFFA provisionally estimates Access Agreement support for disadvantaged students at £386.5m in 2011-12: (Col 691W)

Free Enterprise Group paper which calls for OFFA to be scaled back:

Lampl blogpost alongside the new Postgraduate Premium Report:

Whatever happened to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission? – No website, remit or publications timetable

Adjournment Debate on the Oxford postgraduate access case: (Col 431)

Education Select Committee has published uncorrected oral evidence on SEN: and careers:

Direct link to Education Select Committee’s deeply critical report on careers guidance

Media coverage of OFFA’s as yet unpublished 2014-15 guidance:  and – advocates long-term outreach

OFFA’s 2014-15 guidance apparently announces National Scholarship Programme reforms:

UUK responds to OFFA’s 2014-15 Guidance before OFFA has even published it: – someone needs to pull their finger out!


Disadvantage and Narrowing Gaps

Table showing Grammar School FSM eligibility by school: (Col 356W) – almost all are below 5% – scandalous

The EYFSP Attainment by Pupil Characteristics data mentioned earlier: – FSM gap at 19% largely unchanged since 2010

Work and Pensions Select Committee Report on Universal Credit covers progress on FSM passporting at paras 184-195:

As far as I can establish this is all DfE has published about prioritising FSM admissions to maintained schools:

The FSM priority admissions pilot for maintained schools comes out from under wraps:

Consultation on Improving Educational Outcomes for Children of Travelling Families: – but it isn’t really that

Marginally better looked after children attainment gaps: don’t yet warrant a Pupil Premium Plus:

New series of Pupil Premium evidence notes and case studies from DfE:

Sounds like FSM in FE are once more off the table, because the cost is prohibitive: (Col WA291)

In 2012-13 1,924,920 pupils attracted the Pupil Premium including 52,370 attracting the Service Premium:  (Col 841W)

Estimated costs of FSM for all families entitled to Universal Credit and those with incomes under £16K: (Col 341W)

ASCL call for Pupil Premium funding formula undermined by strange notion of weighting to reflect attainment gaps (TES)

EEF T&LTooklit relaunch: – see ‘latest updates’ tab for what has been added:


Selection and Independent Sector

Defensive speech from president of the GSA: – basically the message to Government is ‘we’ll only co-operate if you pay’

DfE can’t say how many/which schools can select on basis of aptitude in each of the permitted specialisms: (Col 373W)

Times incorrectly reporting KCL will open first 16-19 maths free school. Brief (free) Russian report here:

KCL release on its 16-19 maths free school Wolf leads; DfE’s paying development and ’14-16 outreach’ grant

Update  and FAQ on 16-19 maths free schools. Now maths only with ‘significant’ HE input

Allegations of cheating in London 11+ examinations:

Bucks grammar schools reveal new 11+ designed to to tackle the issue of private tutoring

So we now have 16-19 maths/STEM academy projects in Norwich, London and Exeter: – but there’s funding for 12

Apropos Exeter 16-19 maths specialist school: – my (oldish) post on the planned network:

DfE press release on Exeter 16-19 specialist maths free school:  –  Unclear why they cite only Kolmogorov as the model

Delighted Boyle’s pushing fair access to GS/faith schools  Gatekeepers’ resistance must be overcome

Direct link: Barriers to Choice in Public Service, calling for support for poor students to enter grammar/faith schools

DfE wants more bids from universities to open specialist 16-19 maths free schools – it now has a dedicated team:


Miscellaneous Issues

Here’s Labour’s online policy hub – education and children page:  (Labour list gave out the wrong URL this morning)

Just 3.85% of 1,920 converter academies have sponsor arrangements to raise performance in another academy: (Col 325W)

I was surprised at how anti-sets this DfE webpage is: – compared with my analysis

I strove to find the middle ground here: – most of the ‘gifted’ literature is avidly pro-setting…

Feature on ability-based vertical grouping in Y9-11: – doesn’t really bring out the downside of ability groups

300 FE colleges to start competing for 14 year-olds: Will that remove early entry barrier?

FAQs on 14-16 enrolment in colleges:

A post that asks some serious questions about Futurelearn, the OU MOOC endeavour:

Updated FAQ on 14-16 enrolment in colleges: – bit vague on the curricular implications

TES reports on progress towards 14-16 admissions in FE: – slow start but could be a big deal in future

New OECD analysis of the Social Benefits of Education:  Be good to check how recession has impacted on life satisfaction

Updated details of the Dance and Drama Awards (DADA):

This LSE Growth Commission report focuses entirely on the ‘long tail’ in discussing human capital investment in schools

Direct link to new Education Select Committee Report on Home Education:

DfE has finally published information on free school proposers here  and here

FoI response listing academies that have received pre-warning notices and warning notices:

Announcement of 3rd year of teachers’ National Scholarship Fund:

The Handbook for the new round of the National Scholarship Fund for Teachers: – application deadline is 25 April

Plans to open The Free School Norwich (High School): – by the same people that brought you the primary school

Gove letter to Information Commissioner on release of free school data:  – not quite giving in gracefully…

A new set of FAQs about Advanced Skills Teachers (ASTs):



DfE review of Research Evidence on Writing: – concludes that there are still huge gaps in the evidence base

DfE is seeking EoIs in the Evaluation of Teaching Schools:

New DfE research on Pupils Not Claiming Free School Meals: – estimates 200,000 (14% of those eligible) don’t claim

There’s an interesting new Eurydice comparative report on Developing Key Competences at School in Europe:

Some of new Education Endowment Foundation grants seem rather bloated: – many beneficiaries are the usual suspects too

New DfE research too on the impact of pupil behaviour and well-being on educational outcomes:

New DfE research on students taking gap years: – they get better degrees but earn less at 30

Final report of DfE-commissioned research into L6 tests is due tomorrow. Contract here:

DfE research contract for study of progression of high-achieving pupils to HE also now published:

New DfE research review of literacy and numeracy catch-up strategies:

Direct link to new Jerrim/Vignoles paper: University Access for Disadvantaged Children: and PN:

CERP article by McNally on detracking plus link to full paper on impact of opening up NI grammar schools

Interesting new DfE research report on the impact of family circumstances and ‘stressors’ on pupil outcomes:

NEPC’s Annual Bunkum Awards for Truly Rotten Education Research (plus links to their reviews of the winners):



February 2013

Gifted Education in Taiwan: Part Two


Flag_of_the_Republic_of_China.svgThis is the second part of a two-part post about gifted education in Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China (R.O.C.)

Part One traced the history of Taiwan’s national gifted and talented education programme from its earliest origins in 1961/1962 up to the final years of the Twentieth Century.

Part Two picks up the story at that point, tracing developments up to the present day and on either side of the publication in 2007 of the seminal White Book on Gifted Education.



Before the White Book


The Millennial Position

Wu’s article from 2000 ‘Talent Identification and Talent Development in Taiwan’ provides a useful basis for comparison with his earlier publications.

We will continue to use his preferred categorisation into Supervisory, Implementation and Resource issues (though he has much to say about the middle of these and comparatively little to offer on the other two).



The Special Education Law (SEL) was revised and reissued in 1997 but Wu does not explain in detail how the provisions have been adjusted compared with the 1984 version.

He does mention changes to identification processes:

‘The new regulation…is more flexible and more school-based (rather than national norm-referenced). As the conception of giftedness is broadening and the gifted/talented education programmes are expanding in Taiwan, the identification/assessment procedures will change into a less strict and more flexible system, aiming at developing talents for all.’

There is slightly more information in a brief article in the Winter 1999 World Council Newsletter which mentions that the revised SEL extended the definition of giftedness to include leadership and creativity. It also specified that support should be available for socially and culturally disadvantaged and twice exceptional students.




Identification: Wu explains that, prior to 1998, students had to fulfil additional criteria to those outlined in the previous section, but it is not clear whether these were introduced by the 1997 SEL or beforehand.

Gifted students needed:

‘A score higher than two standard deviations above the mean on the IQ test; a grade point average in the top 2 % of their school peers at the same grade, or a score higher than two standard deviations above the mean on an achievement test covering major subjects in the curriculum .’

Meanwhile, students identified as mathematically or scientifically talented needed to:

‘Receive a score higher than one and a half standard deviations above the mean on an intelligence test and achievement tests in math and/or science. In addition, they must have a grade point average in the top 1% of their school peers at the same grade in mathematics or science, or have demonstrated an outstanding performance in a national or international competition.’

And arrangements were similar for those with talent in languages. The identification arrangements for the artistically talented seem broadly the same:

‘Students are assessed through their performance…and through a series of artistic or musical aptitude tests. The eligibility criterion for the students talented in dance and drama is mainly focused on performance. Those who achieved awards for distinguished performance in a national or international contest are also accepted.’

The expectation of ‘an IQ test score above the mean’ for artistically talented learners was removed by the 1997 SEL and implemented in 1999.

Wu concentrates on a series of familiar problems and challenges associated with identification. These include: a tendency for parents and teachers to view the procedure as competitive; the selection of very few socially and culturally disadvantaged learners because of the nature of the tests used; and uncertainty over how to deal with high IQ students who nevertheless underachieve in the classroom.

Conversely, there have been issues with high achievers who not have a sufficiently high IQ to be selected into the gifted classes:

‘These children were placed in regular classes but their exceptional grades put pressure on teachers and administrators to get them admitted to the special classes for the gifted. School personnel see the children as gifted and are impressed by their strong motivation and good work skills. After considerable debate within each school, these children are gradually admitted to the gifted classes.’

Coaching is also mentioned for the first time:

‘It has been rumoured that some parents bought the IQ tests used by the schools and coached their child with these exams. This rumour should be viewed with scepticism since it is by no means likely that the average parent could purchase all the different forms of each of the IQ tests and be able to coach the child effectively for such a complex task. Nevertheless, coaching remains problematic because it places a great pressure on the school and the educational administration bureau.’


Programme Design: Wu says that:

‘Up to 1997, programmes…were three types: programmes for the intellectually gifted, programmes for students talented in specific academic domains, and programmes for students talented in fine arts, music, dancing, drama, and sports.

The goals of these gifted programmes are: to develop the potential of gifted/talented students, to cultivate good living habits and healthy personality traits, and to teach for high cognitive and/or skill attainment.’

This rather implies that the categorisation changed in 1997, but Wu provides no further information. In other respects programming seems broadly unchanged.

Wu’s analysis of the problems associated with programme design and development include a more thorough treatment of the advantages and disadvantages of mainstreaming.

He notes that the perceived advantages of the resource room approach are associated with ‘the affective and social domains’ yet there is little research evidence to support the argument that they are preferable to separate classes in this respect.

He concludes that

‘The decision on the relative efficacy and desirability of each model is still an unsolved problem.’

Other issues are largely repetitions of the earlier set quoted above.


Teacher development and deployment: Wu rephrases his previous concerns, noting that teachers find it increasingly hard to ‘cope with a class of students with a large appetite for learning and diverse interests and aptitudes’. Their additional responsibilities for curriculum design and development of teaching materials contribute to overload. Many believe gifted education is more challenging but also more stressful. Interestingly ‘they also caution against having expectations that are too high for the gifted’.



Wu recapitulates concerns about parental attitudes, which are dominated by the entrance examinations for senior high schools.

‘They feel anxious if the gifted/talented classes have too much curriculum content that is outside the scope of the “standard curricula” or the high school entrance exam. This perception puts inordinate pressure on the schools, and influences the teaching of gifted/talented classes.’

He concludes with plea for a more coherent and flexible system:

‘Further development should be planned and implemented. To ensure the full development of talents in our society, we must not be content with the limited programmes in limited areas on an experimental basis. Multi-flexible gifted/talented education programmes ought to be designed to meet the divergent needs of the students with multi-capabilities.’

Let us see how far progress towards this ideal was subsequently realised.


Taipei 101 courtesy of Francisco Diez

Taipei 101 courtesy of Francisco Diez


Incremental Growth and Associated Controversy

There is relatively little freely available material covering the period between 2000 and 2007, which may be attributable – at least in part – to a decline in the relative priority attached to gifted education by the Taiwanese Government.

There is, however, data available – reproduced in Table 3 below – which shows continued expansion, in high schools at least:

Year Classes Students
2001 50 1731
2002 59 2084
2003 79 2476
2004 107 3777
2005 186 5450

 Table 3: Increase in Numbers of Gifted Classes and Students in Taiwanese High Schools, 2001-2005


Another source reveals that, by 2005, the total number of students attending special and resource classes was 45,537, equivalent to 1.27% of the total student population, and a significant improvement compared with 1997, when fewer than 33,000 learners were supported.

By 2006, this total had further increased to 50,693. However, only 13% of Taiwan’s schools (519 in all) were by this stage providing such programmes.

This increase in the number of gifted classes was not entirely welcomed however. Many educators felt that parental pressure was turning some of the classes into little more than crammers for high school entrance examinations.

The Government’s response was to tighten the identification criteria, reintroducing requirements that students must score two standard deviations above the mean in IQ tests and above the 97th percentile in achievement. (These requirements had for some years been relaxed to 1.5 standard deviations and above the 93rd percentile).

Continuing disagreement over this issue prompted the Government to organise a national conference on gifted education in July 2006 (more on this below).

Such disagreement was embodied in what became a cause celebre

In 2004 Taiwan’s National Education Act was amended to require mixed ability classes in junior high schools. Previously it was permissible to run selective ‘upper level’ and ‘lower level’ classes. However, under the terms of the SEL, schools were still permitted to provide special gifted classes.

Many used this provision as a loophole, redesignating their upper level classes as gifted classes.

In May 2006, four or five counties and cities in central Taiwan (the number varies according to the source) organised a joint entrance examination for over 20,000 elementary school students seeking entrance to these redesignated classes. Central Government declared the examination illegal.

One source quotes different opinions of existing practice:

‘Yang Hsiu-pi…policy director of the National Teachers’ Association, said that fake gifted education classes only caused segregation between students and that more resources were distributed to these classes, so they are therefore unfair to other “normal” students.

Also, the courses for students in the so-called gifted classes are geared towards entrance examinations to high school…’


‘Baw Chung-miin , chairman of the Parents’ Association in Taipei, said that the association supported gifted education…Gifted students should be distributed into mixed ability classes but for subjects for which they show a particular talent, they can be removed from their normal classes to learn in a special class designed especially for gifted children, Baw said.’

The Minister was quoted in a follow-up story:

‘According to the Act, so-called gifted students must earn that designation after being observed by teachers or other professionals before taking the test…Many students attended cram school classes before taking the joint exams, and therefore failed to fulfil this requirement…The joint examinations also meant that students may end up going to a school far away from home when the ministry promotes attending nearby schools’.

Tu said that although local governments were often allowed to make their own decisions, they had not listened to the education ministry during a meeting early this month…’

In a second report of the affair, Tu offers up a slightly different concern:

‘Education Minister Tu Cheng-sheng reiterated yesterday that he strongly backs the classes for “truly gifted” students but steadfastly opposes the “falsely gifted” students.

He stressed that it is “common sense” that “gifted” students are born and not produced by cram schools.’

In opposing the belief that learners can be coached to become recognised as ‘gifted’, he falls into the opposite error of suggesting that their giftedness is entirely determined by heredity.

There is also an undercurrent of tension between central and local government, with the latter clearly feeling that the former has intervened far too belatedly, is singling them out when other local authorities are doing exactly the same thing, and is trampling on their local autonomy.

The second report concludes:

‘The identification, selection and education of “gifted” students in Taiwan have long been among the most controversial education issues on the island…

Most junior high schools in rural areas tend to separate students into three major categories: 1) “talented students” who are on their way to top-notch senior high schools and subsequently best universities; 2) “average” students; and 3) “abandoned” students, who either quit school after completing the compulsory junior high education or moving on to vocational training schools and junior colleges…

Educators said it is absurd to see that almost every school has a large number of “gifted” students. The MOE should help draw up independent and stricter criteria to discover and identify the genuinely talented teenagers for “special cultivation,” they said.’


Science and Creativity Become Priorities; Music is Problematic

An insight into the priorities of this period can be gained from the list of projects undertaken by Ching-Chi Kuo, who was Director of NTNU’s Special Education Center from 2001 to 2007. These include:

2000: Identification and Assessment of Culturally Different Talented Students.

2001-2003: Discovering and Nurturing Art Talented Students—The Wu-Lai School Model.

2003-2006: Developing Multiple Intelligences and Problem Solving Ability of Gifted/Talented Handicapped and Non-handicapped Preschool Children.

2006-2008: The Compilation Project on Adjustment Scale for Identifying Gifted Students in Senior High Schools (Co-PI)

2006-2008: The Compilation Project on Adjustment Scale for Mathematic Gifted Senior High School Students

2006-2008: Group-administered Intelligence Test for Primary and Junior High School Students (Co-PI)

Several of these were conducted under the auspices of Taiwan’s National Science Council, and science evidently became a major priority during this period.

In 2003 the Ministry published a White Paper for Science Education.

This states that:

‘Special curricula and evaluation systems should be developed for gifted/talented students…The needs for science learning for gifted/talented students should also be considered’

In 2006 there is a reference on the Ministry website to a ‘Project for Cultivating Outstanding Talents in Science’ but it is not too clear what the project entails.

A subsequent report, dating from 2009 refers to recent decisions to create science streams in senior high schools.

‘Six senior high schools have been approved to open a science stream each this year. There will be 30 people in each class, selected from junior high school graduates or 8th graders qualified to take the basic competency test. No more than five junior high senior students with proven outstanding performance and exempt from the competency test can be accepted to each class….

Senior high schools and universities will coordinate and design the curricula. The programme will be divided into two stages. In the first stage the students will take regular basic science subjects as well as humanity science courses and attend intramural examinations for exempted subjects. The second stage includes mostly specialised disciplines. University professors will be invited to give lectures or students may directly take natural science courses in universities and conduct their own research projects under the guidance of university professors…’

Science remains high up the agenda. The Ministry indicates that advanced science education was a particular priority in 2012, especially in senior high schools:

‘Taiwan has achieved outstanding results in the international Mathematics and Science Olympiad. Domestic mathematics and science competitions are frequently held for senior high school students, and there are also science talent cultivation plans and domestic and international exhibitions to stimulate interest and learning in the sciences.

Key objectives for the year 2012: (i) Continue training students for the Maths and Science Olympiads, and organise similar domestic competitions in mathematics and information technology for junior high school and senior high school students. (ii) Plan to host the 26th International Olympiad in Informatics in 2014. (iii) Continue supporting secondary and elementary education projects in science and cultivation programmes for scientific talent. (iv) Set up science programmes in senior high schools and monitor the effectiveness of the programmes.’


SunMoonLake courtesy of Allen Hsu

SunMoonLake courtesy of Allen Hsu


Also in this period the Government published a Creativity White Paper marking the culmination of a series of research projects and initiatives conducted throughout the late 1990s.

The White Paper argued that:

‘To fully unleash the creative potential of the people in Taiwan , it is essential to initiate a thorough analysis and examination of all relevant policies and strategies to determine which actions have fostered and will continue to promote the creative processes and which ones have been stifling innovation. The ultimate goal is threefold: first, to establish an educational policy that will encourage and support creativity; second, to develop and institute instructional strategies to implement creative education; and third, to widen the public’s vision and appreciation for a “creative culture” by arousing their creative interests from an “ecological perspective.”’

The aims included providing ‘an educational environment in which individual differences are treasured and that contributes to a diverse and dynamic learning atmosphere’.

Analysis of the current situation in Taiwan revealed a set of problems not dissimilar to those besetting gifted education:

  • The public understanding of creativity is limited and beset by prejudice – ‘many assume that creativity is an inborn trait and that nurturing efforts are futile’ while ‘parents’ and teachers’ high expectations for short-term academic performance does not encourage innovative learning through trial and error’;
  • Though many educational policies emphasise creativity, they have not been fully implemented. Teacher education and evaluation are limited.
  • The culture of most schools is not conducive to creativity and there is too much emphasis on the outcomes of teaching and learning rather than the process.

The White Paper proposes a series of principles to govern implementation, the first of which is called ‘the all-inclusive principle’ Part of this says:

‘When implementing creative policies, we must focus on both those with special talents as well as on the general public. Of course, we will continue to promote policies that support gifted and talented education and that cultivate special talent, but we must also pay homage to the idea that everyone is born with creative potential; as such, we should strive to maximize the creative aptitude of the general public as well.’

One of the imperatives in the strategy laid out in the White Paper is to ‘Specify Creative Thinking as One of Our Educational Goals and Incorporate this into Educational Curriculum at All Levels’ but there is no further reference to talent development or the interaction with gifted education.

An article by Kuo on Creative Education for Gifted and Talented students (undated but certainly post 2006) outlines the key elements of the Taiwanese ‘creative education development plan’ which consists of ‘8 main projects and 277 sub-projects.

The former are listed: nurturing trips for creative learners; professional development of creative teachers; campus space renewal; ongoing consolidation of creativity cultivation; online learning via database banks; creative campus life in action; international creativity education exchange; and promotion of the concepts of creativity.

According to Kuo, the beneficiaries include:

‘students who come from gifted or talented classes/programmes and students who are not labelled as ‘gifted’ but also show high creative potentials’.

She goes on to describe an enrichment programme based at NTNU to develop ‘young gifted children’s multiple intelligences…problem solving ability and creativity’.

In a 2009 paper ‘Planting the Seeds of Creative Education in Taiwan: Some Examples of Down-to-Earth Programmes’, Jing-Jyi Wu illustrates some of the outcomes of the White Paper strategy, including the so-called ‘Intelligent Ironman Creativity Contest’  introduced in 2004.

The purpose of this team-based competition is to:

‘Prepare future leaders with the following strengths: (a) creative and innovative, (b) cooperative team members, (c) multidisciplinary, (d) able to obtain and use resources efficiently, (e) physically strong and enduring.’

The contest continues to this day.

A paper dating from 2005 by Hsiao-Shien Chen examines the effectiveness of Taiwan’s Special Music Programme (SMP), designed to prepare students with musical talent for subsequent university study.

Talented young musicians are recruited into SMPs at elementary, junior and senior high schools. In the latter case, they must pass auditions and the standard entrance examinations.

In the case of elementary and junior high schools they undertake an IQ test, an ‘academic test’ and separate tests of musical aptitude and ‘musicianship’.

Chen’s review pulls no punches:

‘The results of this study suggest that there be continued investigation of the Special Music Programmes in Taiwan and that they be viewed with scepticism. It would appear that a great deal of government money and teacher effort is expended in the SMPs, but little evidence of this specialised training can be seen after three semesters in a university music programme. Given the scarcity of resources for ordinary K-12 school programmes, one must wonder if the resources devoted to the SMP might be better spent…

Although the SMP functions well in preparing students for advanced music study in certain subjects, the significant effect of an SMP background only shows up for a short period in students’ performance. Besides the main function of the SMP to prepare students for advanced music study, the side effects of the SMP should be a serious concern, too.’

The author recommends that the Ministry should appoint an expert group to review and revise the SMP curriculum, which is over-focused on exam preparation and under-focused on the development of musicianship.


Taipei 101 courtesy of fishtailtaipei

Taipei 101 courtesy of fishtailtaipei


The White Book of Gifted Education to the Present Day


The White Book

The appearance of the White Book was an important watershed in the recent history of Taiwanese gifted education.

The idea may well have originated with Wu. There is a paper dating from 2005 or thereabouts called ‘Development and Perspectives of Gifted Education in Taiwan’, though I can only source a Chinese version with an abstract in English.

The abstract says the paper proposes ‘seven action plans for further development’:

‘(1) enhancing scientific researches and their application; (2) strengthening legislations; (3) keeping the educational avenues fluent for gifted students; (4) enhancing teacher education and empowering GATE teachers; (5) enhancing accountability for results and follow-up; (6) publishing a national “white book” on GATE: (7) establishing a National Research Centre on GATE and initiating an Asian Resource Centre of GATE.’

The following year, the sixth of these proposals became a reality.

The Ministry of Education’s website carries an introduction to the White Book which notes that:

‘The development of gifted education in Taiwan at the turn of the new century has aroused great attention when a lot of gifted classes were formed without adequate evaluation on its content and quality.’ [sic]

This concern led to a Conference of National Gifted Education Development being convened in July 2006, where experts discussed a list of issues: administration and resources, identification and placement of gifted learners, curriculum design and teaching, teacher education and support, counselling, disadvantaged gifted learners and evaluation.

Conclusions were reached following a series of local forums

The White Book captures Conference outcomes and is intended ‘to serve as the reference of local authorities’.

A second note by Kuo offers a similar summary.

An English language version of the White Book itself was published in March 2008. It opens with the note summarised above before setting out the detailed provisions.

These begin with four ‘ideals of gifted education’ which, in brief, are:

  • Every gifted student should have suitable educational opportunities to explore their potential;
  • Gifted students require a differentiated learning environment responsive to their different abilities, interests and aptitude;
  • Gifted education should respond to different types of ability and multiple intelligences – there should be more opportunities for more students, not just the academically able, and this requires support from parents and society as a whole;
  • Gifted education should place equal importance on the cognitive and affective, supporting gifted students to become wise and caring people who can help the less fortunate, tolerate differences and appreciate the achievements of others.

Some of the strengths of the Taiwanese system include the support of ‘government authorities’ (both central and local, presumably), the existence of expert committees securing open and fair identification processes, support from the special education centres established for that purpose and support from research bodies such as the National Science Council.

On the other hand, some weaknesses are apparent, including poor levels of public understanding, limited professional understanding amongst teachers and administrators, insufficiently differentiated curricula and ‘hindrance on multiple assessment and placement plans’.

Seven ‘developmental dimensions’ require attention. In each case the White Book analyses the current state, the obstacles faced and planned strategies to overcome them. It sets out seven action plans to implement these strategies.


Administration and resources: This includes the organisation and operation of the system, budgetary and regulatory issues and online and community resources, including parental involvement.

National responsibility for administration is vested in the Ministry of Education’s Special Education Unit, supported by a Special Education Advisory Council.

The Education Bureau of each county and city also has its own Special Education Division, an Advisory Board and a Committee for the Identification and Placement of Gifted and Disabled Students.

Each School has its own Special Education Promotion Committee and/or a Special Education Unit.

Regulation is via the 1984 Special Education Law (SEL), as substantively amended in 1997, but also subject to further amendment in 2001, 2004 and 2006 respectively. There are also several relevant sets of Regulations relating to issues such as the curriculum and teaching materials, acceleration, staffing and so on.

Article 30 of the SEL makes the necessary budgetary provision, requiring that:

‘The annual special education budget of the central government shall account for no less than 3% of the sum allotted to education. The annual special education budget of the local governments shall account for no less than 5% of the sum allotted to education.’

A table is supplied showing that gifted education has been allocated around 5% of the annual special education budget in the years 2005-07.

The total annual gifted education budget varies from $NT 307m to $NT 334m (roughly £6.67m to £7.16m). A note says these total include ‘the personnel and administration expenditures in Public senior high schools’.

The description of community and internet resources is more qualitative, outlining the support available through libraries, museums and universities, a range of competitions and science fairs and a smattering of websites.

The text says ‘it is desirable to have more websites in the future specifically designed for gifted education’.

A few gifted education development organisations have been established by parents, some of whom serve on local special education advisory boards and school-based parents’ associations. Additional support is provided through the centres established at normal universities and teachers’ colleges and also local gifted education resource centres.

The key problems identified include: too little human resource, ‘lack of clear regulations and policies’, inadequate funding, limited distribution of community and online resources, limited parental co-ordination and too few research institutes and resource centres.

Six actions are proposed to address them:

  • Amend the Special Education Act and related regulations to promote gifted education.
  • Enhance professional knowledge and administrators’ implementation strategy.
  • Increase the proportion of the total education budget allocated to gifted education.
  • Organise the involvement of experts, professionals, teachers and parents in supporting gifted education development
  • Support the creation of more parents’ groups and
  • Establish a National Special (Gifted) Education Research Development Centre and support local government to establish more resource centres for gifted education.


Identification and placement: This incorporates identification criteria and tools, professional involvement and processes, and continuity across different sectors.

We learn that the SEL as amended has replaced the original tripartite distinction between general intelligence, scholastic aptitude and special talents.

There are currently six categories of giftedness: general intelligence aptitude, specific academic aptitude, visual and performing arts, creative and productive thinking, leadership ability and other aptitudes.

There is provision for the early entry of gifted students to kindergarten and some areas are trying out accelerative approaches, but there is so far no special identification processes for students displaying creativity, leadership and other special talents.

There was a move to:

‘include multiple intelligences, to lower the threshold of gifted children identification to 1.5 standard deviations (SD) above the mean, instead of 2 SD, and to depend more on the observation and professional judgment of experts than on objective tests.’

But, as we have seen, the use of gifted classes as a way to continue selective groups when mixed ability grouping was imposed in 2004 eventually led the Government to reintroduce a requirement that gifted learners should have scores on aptitude tests that were 2 standard deviations above the mean.

In reaction to ‘the implementation of ability grouping under the disguise of gifted education’ the Government has also ruled that separate gifted classes should be confined to those with talent in visual and performing arts. Others attend ‘distributed gifted classes’ (presumably identical to the original resource room model).

Local authorities are also expected to provide a menu of additional opportunities including school-based programmes, summer and holiday sessions, competitions and mentors.

Key problems identified include: poor understanding; inadequate human resource, assessment instruments and assessment plans; lack of co-ordination and the absence of systematic identification of those with creative, leadership and special talents.

Seven strategies are identified to address these issues:

  • ‘Advocate the ideal and spirit of gifted education through media’;
  • Draw up codes to govern identification processes;
  • Provide training for those engaged in identification;
  • Develop assessment instruments and standards to improve the reliability and validity of assessment;
  • Create ‘multiple placement paths’ and improve continuity of provision between sectors;
  • Establish acceleration guidance; and
  • Develop processes for identifying students with creativity, leadership or special talents.


Curriculum and project design: This includes differentiation, providing curricular continuity and a flexible educational environment. Responsibility is currently vested mainly in the teachers of gifted classes.

They typically embellish the standard curriculum for the relevant grade and subject, adding enrichment activities, independent study and options for acceleration. There is increasing diversification but little development so far for creative, leadership and special talents.

Problems identified include poor co-ordination, poor curriculum design, over-reliance on didactic teaching, limited focus on creativity and affective issues, poor quality teaching materials, inadequate provision for pre-schoolers and limited attention to curricular continuity across sectors.

Four strategies are proposed:

  • Establish a ‘differentiated curriculum and adaptive educational environment’;
  • Support school-based programmes to provide differentiation and a suitable educational environment;
  • ‘Create a digital learning platform for gifted education to facilitate exchanges of teaching materials, resources, and other support of gifted education’; and
  • Support pre-school enrichment programmes for gifted learners.


Teacher training: including accreditation and professional development. Following legal changes in 1999, the majority of gifted education teachers received specialist pre-service training. It is now possible to graduate with a major in gifted education.

Teachers require 40 credits for certification compared with the 16 originally stipulated and this includes 20 credits related directly to gifted education.

However, further reforms provide for all teachers to pass a certification test and the certification rate is relatively low amongst gifted education teachers: 42% in elementary schools and just 6% in secondary schools. Only 14 of 26 applicants working in gifted education successfully passed the certification test in 2007.

A recent over-supply of teachers has significantly reduced recruitment. Those who are recruited tend to be selected on the basis of their subject specialism.

Professional development is provided through seminars run by local authorities and universities, an in-service masters degree and a range of other graduate programmes. Most teachers have to pay their own fees.

There is therefore a gap between the training provided and the expertise required, too few teachers with gifted education certificates and too few professional development activities.

Four strategies are set out:

  • Provide ‘multidisciplinary training’ for gifted education teachers;
  • Strengthen the professional standard for gifted education teachers so that it meets the demands of the role;
  • Promote increased professional development and networking between gifted education teachers;
  • Develop an ‘empowerment programme’ so generalist administrators can improve their professional knowledge in gifted education.


Counselling and follow-up monitoring: More attention is paid to cognitive than affective needs. However:

‘Many gifted students have unique mal-adjustment problems, as a result of perfectionism, unbalanced physical and psychological development, and anxiety due to stereotyped expectations.’

Most counselling is provided by teachers other than the gifted education specialists or by school counsellors. Most schools monitor their gifted students until they leave. More focus is required on cross-phase studies. The proposed strategies are:

  • Provide more counselling and careers advice courses.
  • Develop ‘social service programmes’ for gifted learners
  • Develop and maintain a database to support ‘systematic guidance’.


Disadvantaged gifted education: The importance of gifted education for disadvantaged learners was first recognised a 1995 National Gifted Education Conference. Guidelines were initially introduced in the 1997 SEL and the Ministry of Education subsequently introduced ‘a series of policies and strategies’.

In the Taiwanese context, ‘disadvantage’ includes twice-exceptional students as well as the socio-economically disadvantaged. The former are sub-divided into those with a sensory or physical disability and those who are cognitively disabled.

In 2007, there are just 97 students in these two sub-categories, 24% were hearing impaired, 22% physically disabled and 13% autistic.

The socio-economically disadvantaged include:

‘Those who possess giftedness but live in remote or aboriginal areas, from poor families, or foreign students lacking certain cultural stimulation, or students with parents possessing different mother tongues, and so on.’

The 2007 data records 129 ‘aboriginal gifted students’ and 48 students with foreign parents. The clear majority in both categories have been identified for talent in visual and performing arts.

The problems identified are inadequate understanding of gifted learners in these groups and limitations of assessment tools, administrative support and professional development.

The strategies proposed are to:

  • Advocate for disadvantaged gifted education and better services for disadvantaged students.
  • Develop ‘multiple identification tools and placement procedures’.
  • Strengthen support systems, provide consultation services and improve teachers’ knowledge and counselling of these groups.


Evaluation and supervision: There has been a long history of evaluation, much of it set out above. As for supervision, the 1997 SEL provided for at least biennial assessment by local authorities of schools and by central authorities of local authorities. Local authorities have been particularly active.

In light of the problems with ‘phantom’ gifted classes, the Ministry decided to include the effectiveness of gifted education in ‘the assessment index of special education’.

But outstanding problems include and absence of policies, limitations of assessment indices and lack of a self-evaluation process.

Three strategies are set out:

  • Introduce ‘institutionalised assessment and effective supervision’.
  • ‘Regulate assessment indices’ for various gifted education categories and
  • Promote school self-assessment including ‘a sanction system’.


These seven strategies are outlined in slightly revised within the seven parallel action plans. Four of the actions are identified as urgent priorities:

  • ‘Encourage the local educational authorities to establish their own Gifted Education Resource Centre’
  • ‘Have Special Education Programmes at Normal Universities or Educational Colleges conduct gifted education teacher training workshops in order to increase the percentage of certified teachers’
  • ‘Increase the percentage of gifted education budget’ and
  • ‘Increase the subsidy to local education authorities to improve the facilities of gifted classes.’

An annex divides the actions into short-term (2008-09); intermediate (2010-11) and long-term projects (2012-13).


white book action plan Capture


A 2008 paper from the still ubiquitous Wu carries an English language abstract  mentioning three statutory changes introduced at this time: raising the test threshold from 1.5 SDs above the norm back to 2.0 (as mentioned above); retreating from separate special classes for gifted learners in favour of the pull-out model of provision; and applying screening and identification processes only after pupils have been admitted to their schools (presumably so that they do not become de facto admissions processes).

Wu notes that these adjustments have led to ‘operational problems’ and provide only limited flexibility. He argues that the future success of Taiwanese gifted education is dependent on balancing excellence and flexibility – and suggests that some of the existing regulations need to be reviewed and/or amended.

Conversely, other commentators prefer to stress the progress made already towards greater flexibility, citing the impact of articles 4, 28 and 29 of the SEL as amended in 2008, which further expanded the definition of giftedness as set out in the White Book and introduced additional provision for grade-skipping.

An insight into the implementation workload can be gleaned from an October 2011 report in the World Council’s Newsletter in which Ching-chih Kuo reveals that there are dozens of strategies and plans requiring implementation: twenty-six have been commenced or completed but others have not yet begun!

Kuo’s own website reinforces the sense of action plan overload. Her long list includes: Sub-project to Gifted and Talented Education Action Plan: Identifying and Serving Gifted Students with Disabilities and/or from Culturally Diverse [Backgrounds];  The Development Plan for Gifted Education;  Sub-project to the Development Plan for Gifted Education: Progress and Perspectives;  An Action Project to Assess the Outcome of School-based Gifted Education Practice;  An Action Project to Develop Measures of Identifying and Serving Gifted Students with Disabilities and/or Social-economic Disadvantages;  An Action Project to Develop the Follow-up System for the Gifted (Co-PI);  An Action Project to Regulate Essentials on the Identification and Placement of Gifted Students;  and An Action Project of School-based Gifted Education Service

By 2011 there are plans to ‘reshuffle’ the Ministry’s Special Education Unit to secure better performance. A new large-scale projects is also mentioned:

‘A Balanced Development Plan for Different Categories of Gifted Education…the Department of Special Education of National Taiwan Normal University is entrusted with the responsibility of developing a long-term project for 2012-13 and compiling suggestions to prepare another six-year action plan for gifted education from 2014 to 2019 to plan for a golden decade of gifted education in Taiwan.’


The dawn of a small fishing port dawulun keelung taiwan courtesy of harry taiwan

The dawn of a small fishing port dawulun keelung taiwan courtesy of harry taiwan


A Local Perspective from Kaoshuing City

The material available online includes an interesting commentary by Su, a gifted education administrator in Kaoshuing City’s Bureau of Education.

Kaoshuing is a city in the South-west of Taiwan with a population of almost 2.8 million. Formerly a special municipality in its own right, it merged with Kaoshuing County in 2010 to create a larger administrative unit.

Su’s paper on Gifted Education in Kaoshuing City (or Kaohsiung City) was amongst those presented at the 10th Asia-Pacific Conference on Giftedness, hosted by Singapore in July 2008.

Unfortunately the English is not easy to follow but it describes the development of gifted education provision and services within the City, especially over the period from 2004 onwards, and reflects on the implications of the White Book action plans.

Following an inaugural National Gifted Education Meeting in 1996, the City’s Education Bureau published a framework for gifted education in junior high schools in 1997 and in elementary schools the following year.

By 2003, the City had introduced a ‘Special Education Consulting Commission’, responsible for development planning, overseeing an annual work plan for special education and handling complaints. A parallel ‘Commission of Assessment and Entry Tutoring’ was also formed and several schools also set up their own ‘Special Education Promoting Commission’.

In January 2004, the Education Bureau also established a dedicated Special Education Department. The gifted education section was given responsibility for a set of learning and resource centres including a ‘high achievement education resource centre’ based in Kaohsiung Junior High School which was established in 2005.

The Bureau’s gifted education team consisted of two specialists and three support teachers, but additional staff are attached to the resource centres.

By 2008, the City’s gifted education provision is offered in four forms: early enrolment, a ‘general intelligence gifted resource project’, telescoped or compacted study and support for artistically talented young people.

The ‘general intelligence gifted support project’ selects pupils in the second year of primary school and in junior high school. The telescoping options apply in elementary and junior high schools and include:

‘‘exempt curriculum’, ‘speeding individual subject’, ‘jumping subject’ and ‘speeding whole subjects’, in order to earlier select curriculum higher than senior high school year 1 in a total of 7 categories.’

By 2004 there were 156 gifted classes in the city catering for almost 5,200 learners. By 2007 this had increased to 180 classes for almost 6,400 learners and some 320 teachers were engaged in this work, the majority in elementary schools.

An increase in the number of junior high schools has resulted in a shortage of qualified specialist teachers in that sector. There are no qualified specialists leading classes for artistically talented learners.

The Bureau partnered with the Special Education Department at National Kaohsiung Normal University in 2007 to run a course for 40 gifted education teachers (and a similar course for teachers of ‘art talent classes’ is also planned).

The budget is relatively small – $NT 3m – in 2007, but from 2008 significant additional funding ($NT 15m) is being made available for projects implementing recommendations in the White Paper for Creative Education.

The paper identifies a number of problems with current provision and strategies to address them. These include:

  • Securing increased professional support within the Education Bureau;
  • Finding a more efficient assessment model (because confidentiality cannot be maintained, the Bureau is having to invest in new test items each year);
  • Maintaining flexibility within the gifted education curriculum in the face of parental expectation that it will be exclusively accelerative;
  • Enabling staff to work collaboratively on gifted education curriculum development;
  • Increasing the supply of qualified gifted education teachers and increasing the available funding.


Further Progress with Arts and Sports

An article published in the Taiwan Review in 2010 provides a relatively thorough picture of provision mid-way through the White Book reforms, while also foregrounding a growing emphasis on talent development in arts and sports.

It notes that, at March 2010, there were 26,949 students identified for artistic talent, compared with 10,740 for scholastic aptitude, 6,446 for general intelligence and 265 for ‘other special talents’.

The article gives an insight into the latter:

‘A MOE [Ministry of Education]  subsidy programme will spend about NT$2.73 million (US$87,000) this year on local governments’ gifted education efforts aimed at other areas where students display special talent such as leadership, information technology, card-playing and the board game Go. The Affiliated High School of National Chengchi University in Taipei, for example, uses Go as one means to identify gifted students and even offers admission to the school based on a student’s Go ability.’

A further 32,000 were enrolled in specialised sports classes in 2008/09, though these do not count as gifted under the terms of the SEL and are the responsibility of the Ministry’s Department of Physical Education.

This shift away from a narrow concept of giftedness is seen as part of a growing trend towards diversification. While separate classes for gifted learners are no longer permitted by the legislation, this does not apply to sports and arts classes.

However there is no longer special funding for such classes on the arts side. There is also pressure to establish a separate unit to verse the arts classes.

Now that different abilities are being recognised, the standard entrance examinations for senior high school and university are being supplemented – even replaced – by other forms of assessment.

Applicants for senior high school sports classes can rely on ‘rankings at major competitions’ as well as tests of ‘general physical capability and specific skills’. Applicants for musical classes can also apply on the basis of rankings in national and regional competitions. Admissions policies have become more flexible in recent years.

Turning to sports, the Ministry of Education reportedly introduced a three-year project in 2009 to develop sporting talent through a regional infrastructure with a budget of $NT 100m. One of the aims is to establish sports classes at elementary and high schools. Students learn about sports medicine, sports nutrition and injury prevention as well as developing their sporting talents.

The article also focuses on SEL provisions permitting gifted students to enter a school early or complete their course more quickly. It features a student who performed well in the 2010 Asian Physics Olympiad. This enabled her to enter university early having already been accelerated at a younger age, skipping a year at both elementary and junior high school.

Such provision is exceptional however and the Director for Special Education at the Ministry is paraphrased:

‘For gifted students, access to higher-level and a bigger range of courses at school is better than skipping grades. In the past, some gifted students have had problems fitting in with older classmates and might have felt shy or isolated. “It can be important for students’ social development to be with classmates their own age.”’


The Size of the Programme

The Ministry website provides a breakdown of the gifted education statistics for 2008. During that academic year there were a total of 1,820 classes for gifted learners, 694 in elementary schools, 707 in junior high schools and 419 in senior and vocational high schools.

Of the total, 346 classes were for students with general intelligence, 352 classes for those with scholastic aptitude, 1,103 for the artistically talented (500 in music, 445 in art and 158 in dance) and 19 for those with other special talents.

These classes catered for a total of 44,970 students, 16,869 in elementary schools, 17,510 in junior high schools and 10,591 in senior high and vocational schools. Two graphs show how these figures have changed since 2004.


2004-08 graph one Capture


2004-8 graph 2 Capture


Unfortunately, more recent data available in English is not always comparable.

We have seen above that, in 2010, there were 26,949 artistically talented, 10,740 deemed to have scholastic aptitude, 6,446 with general intelligence and 265 with other special talents. This gives a total of 44,400, very slightly fewer than the 2008 total.

But another source claims that:

‘In 2010 in Taiwan there were more than seven thousand K–12 schools educating three million students, including a gifted population of up to 150,000 students.

The Ministry’s own summary statistics for school year 2011 (ending 31 July 2012) indicate that there were 29,911 students designated as gifted during that period:

  • 11,017 at primary schools
  • 8,479 at junior high schools and
  • 10,415 at senior high and vocational schools.

But a different Ministry publication gives the total number as 38,080.

It may be that some of these totals exclude certain categories of gifted and talented students, but such distinctions are not made clear.

Nevertheless, it would appear that the total number of gifted and talented learners in Taiwan’s schools is now declining compared with 2008. This may well be attributable – at least in part – to the stricter identification criteria introduced after the difficulties experienced in 2006.

Another source provides a helpful list of the schools in the Taipei area which operated classes for the academically gifted in 2011.

This names thirteen senior high schools, but a conference presentation provides a different list for the whole of Taiwan containing 36 senior high schools all told, only nine of which are in Taipei City.


gifted classes in Taiwan senior high schools Capture


One of the statistical sources above also lists key achievements in special education over the decade 2002-2012 and priorities for the next decade. For gifted education, the retrospective achievement is summarised thus:

‘Promotion of multiple education alternatives for gifted students so as to fully develop their talents’

And the priority is to:

‘Plan 2012-2017 promotion programme for gifted students’,

so a slightly different 5-yar plan to the one envisaged by Kuo.


Contemporary issues and problems

The most recent press reports have focussed on two or three issues that are clearly exercising the Taiwanese government. In particular, there is evidence of a growing interest in the full spectrum of talent development and concern about a ‘brain drain’.

In April 2012, the Government announced that it would publish a White Paper on Talent Development within a year, following an internal review of Government policies.

Six months on, an editorial in the Taipei Times analysed the root of the problem:

‘Recently, the decline of Taiwan’s political and economic status in the international community has become a hot issue. Not only has Taiwan dropped to last place among the four Asian Tigers, but it is also lagging behind many other Asian countries. Some have concluded that the problem lies in Taiwan’s dearth of talent, a situation that has reached worrying levels.’

It suggests that Taiwan is producing too many students with academic skills, whose parents want them to become doctors, businessmen or engineers. They do not encourage their children to develop ‘diverse interests and talents’.

Furthermore, society overvalues status and wealth, particularly when embodied in rich businessmen and government officials.

Thirdly, ‘Taiwan’s educational leaders lack the confidence and refuse to believe that they can train world-class talent.’ Many Taiwanese young people go to study abroad rather than attending domestic universities. They are unlikely to return because of ‘Taiwan’s economic downturn over the last few years’.

Graduate starting salaries have not increased for a decade and are not competitive with opportunities abroad. Many are relocating to mainland China. The country also needs to improve ‘the quality of working and living environments’.

The author suggests that Taiwan must build its identity in the international community and create an environment that will attract international businesses to the country (as well as encouraging Taiwanese businesses that have relocated to the PRC and elsewhere to return).

It will be interesting to see whether these ideas feature in the 2013 White Paper.

Meanwhile, another article, this time in the Taiwan Review, provides an update on progress towards extending compulsory education to the end of senior high school, expected to be introduced in 2014.

Interestingly, part of the reform is to reduce the emphasis on examinations governing entry to senior high school.

‘Under the current BCT [Basic Competency Test] scoring system, students receive a percentage ranking between 1 and 99, and in many cases that score is the only factor schools consider when admitting students. Results of the new test, however, will only be ranked as highly competent, competent or not competent. In addition, that new ranking will only constitute a maximum of one-third of the overall score by which schools evaluate prospective students, if such a score is necessary.’

The intention is to shift gradually to a point where exams are retained only for those students with ‘advanced academic ability’ or talent in arts or music. By 2019-20, only 15% of admissions to senior high schools and junior colleges will involve examination.

Some of the most selective schools under the current system are understandably reluctant to change:

‘The high ranking of Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School, for example, gives it the ability to select “elite” students… Jianguo students have expressed concerns about the learning difficulties that could be encountered in classes in which students have a wide range of academic competence. “Some of the new students may be unable to recognise even the 26 letters of the English alphabet,” another Jianguo student said on a television news programme.’

However, the new approach is expected to reduce the pressure on junior high school students to gain admission to a ‘star school’.

Meanwhile, the issue of stifling exam pressure seems to continue to exert undue influence and several of the other old problems – cited above – seem not yet satisfactorily resolved.

The abstract of a recent paper by Kao carried by the Roeper Review (the full article costs £23.50 to access) appears to confirm this:

‘This study examines the current problems affecting Taiwan’s gifted education through a large-scale gifted programme evaluation. Fifty-one gifted classes at 15 elementary schools and 62 gifted classes at 18 junior high schools were evaluated… Major themes uncovered by this study included exam-oriented instruction, lack of quality affective education, heavy burdens for teachers, enormous pressure for students, gifted art programmes as camouflage, and the failure to utilise resources in the community. These problems could further be consolidated into an overarching theme, overemphasis on exam performance. Discussions and implications addressing these problems are provided in the hope that Taiwan’s and other countries’ gifted education can benefit from them.’


Final Words

The history of gifted education in Taiwan spans a period of over 50 years. At one level it is conspicuously successful: national performance in international comparisons studies and the various Olympiads amply demonstrates that high achievement is pronounced and embedded, especially in maths and sciences.


Taiwans Performance in Olympiad


But, paradoxically, the cause of Taiwan’s success is also the root of the problems that continue to beset its gifted education programme – and indeed its wider education system. The Taiwanese government has been wrestling with these issues determinedly for several years. There are signs of progress, but progress is slow because these reforms are challenging deep-seated cultural beliefs.

Meantime, a comparative economic downturn appears to be stimulating further policy development in reaction to the additional problems that it is generating. How it will impact on the framework of Taiwanese gifted education remains to be seen.

But the remainder of this decade promises to be a significant phase in the continuing evolution of Taiwan’s gifted education programme – possibly even redolent of the apocryphal Chinese curse. Will they finally achieve equilibrium between excellence and diversity, or is that a bridge too far?



February 2013

Gifted Education in Taiwan: Part One


This post describes the development and current operation of Taiwan’s gifted education programme. It completes a tetralogy of studies of gifted education in the ‘Asian Tiger’ economies.


The UK’s attention is arguably over-focused on Hong Kong and Singapore, two relatively small English-speaking jurisdictions with which we have close political and historical ties. South Korea – a much larger country – is sometimes tacked on as an afterthought, but Taiwan is the oft-neglected fourth member of the club.

It performs creditably in PISA rankings but is outstanding in TIMSS (and to a lesser extent PIRLS). My own analysis suggests that Taiwan is particularly strong at the advanced benchmarks for high achievers in these studies, especially in maths and science.

Although there are many freely available online materials about Taiwanese gifted education, few are in English and those that have been translated are often difficult to understand. Recent comprehensive studies are particularly hard to find, with several inaccessible behind paywalls or because of the continuing problems with ERIC.

The post is divided into two parts:

  • Part One sets out the background and charts the historical development of gifted education in Taiwan during the Twentieth Century;
  • Part Two reviews more recent developments, immediately before and after publication of the pivotal White Book in 2007, highlighting several policy priorities and problems that the programme is seeking to address.

For the sake of consistency I have anglicised the American spellings in quotations.


Taiwan in a Nutshell

Taiwan is an island country in East Asia, located 110 miles off the coast of mainland south-east China, east of Hong Kong and north of the Philippines.


Locator Map of the R.O.C. Taiwan courtesy of josh-tw

Locator Map of the R.O.C. Taiwan courtesy of josh-tw


It consists almost entirely of the Island of Taiwan, once called Formosa. The state’s official name is the Republic of China (often shortened to R.O.C.), though the country is sometimes called Chinese Taipei, to distinguish it from the People’s Republic. The largest city is New Taipei City.

The R.O.C. was initially established on the mainland in 1912, but relocated to Taiwan when the People’s Republic was formed in 1949. The post-war Chinese Nationalist Government was eventually succeeded by a democracy.

The President is head of state and appoints a cabinet (the Executive Yuan) including a first minister (the Premier).

The Legislative Yuan, a single house legislative body, has 113 elected seats.

Taiwan has an area of 16,192 km2 and a population of approximately 23.3 million making it the 51st most populous country in the world. Some 15 million of the population are aged 0-14.

The economy is the world’s 19th largest. Per capita GDP (PPP), at $38,486, is broadly comparable with the UK’s.

The country is divided into five Special Municipalities, three Provincial Cities and 14 Counties..

taiwan roc political divisions labeled courtesy of ran english talk

taiwan roc political divisions labeled courtesy of ran english talk


Taiwan’s economic transformation is described as the ‘Taiwan Miracle’. Consistently high rates of economic growth over the past 30 years, on the back of technological development and strong exports, have rapidly increased its wealth. Investment in human capital has been critical to its success.

The currency is the New Taiwan Dollar. One thousand $NT is worth about £20 (almost $US 35).


Taiwan’s Education System

Responsibility for education in Taiwan rests with the Ministry of Education. The incumbent Education Minister is Wei-Ling Chiang.

There are currently nine years of compulsory education, comprising six years at primary (elementary) school (Primary 1-Primary 6) and three years at junior high school (Forms 1-3).

Senior high school (Forms 4-6) is presently non-compulsory but will become so from 2014.

Teachers are trained in specialised teachers’ colleges or on university-based courses. The same institutions provide professional development.

In the 2011 school year (August 1 2011 to 31 July 2012), there were:

  • 8,100 schools in all
  • 2,659 primary schools educating 1.46m learners and employing over 98,000 teachers
  • 742 junior high schools with 873,000 students and 51,000 teachers
  • 336 senior high schools with slightly over 400,000 students and over 36,000 teachers
  • 155 vocational schools for 366,000 students employing almost 17,000 teachers
  • 114 comprehensive senior high schools (accommodating academic and vocational tracks) with 84,000 students and
  • 188 pilot combined high schools for junior and senior high school students (the number of students and teachers is not given).

The Ministry website offers a different classification of senior high schools, distinguishing ordinary and comprehensive schools from ‘magnet’ and ‘experimental’ institutions. There are also junior colleges, with either 5-year or 2-year programmes. The 5-year providers admit students on completion of junior high school.

In anticipation of the extension of compulsory education, the Government announced in 2011 that education expenditure would increase to 22.5% of the national budget, adding a further NT$20bn.

The total education budget in 2011 is said to be NT$ 802.36 billion, or 5.84% of GDP (net of funding for private education) but another Ministry source says that:

‘In the 2010-11 academic year, the total education budget was NT$652.3 billion, of which preschool education accounted for 3.44%, primary education accounted for 26.52%, junior high school education accounted for 14.61%, senior high school education accounted for 16.05% (high schools 10.60%, vocational schools 5.45%), higher education accounted for 38.70% (college 0.77%, universities 37.93%), and 0.69% went to other institutions.’

The ROC Yearbook’s Chapter on Education provides useful background, offering this helpful diagram of the education system.


Taiwan education system - from ROC yearbook


Elementary and Junior High Schools

The commentary on the compulsory education sector notes that class sizes at elementary and junior high schools are currently 25 and 32 respectively, giving pupil-teacher ratios of 15:1 and 14:1 respectively. Primary and junior high schools are operated at district level and take pupils from a designated area.

The curriculum includes:

‘seven major areas of learning: languages, health and physical education, social studies, arts and humanities, mathematics, natural and life sciences, as well as interdisciplinary activities. Each school has its own curriculum development committee, which reviews teaching materials in light of the school’s particular approach and the needs of students. Some junior high schools offer technical courses to students in their third year of study, paving the way for their enrolment in vocational schools or five-year junior colleges upon graduation.

Languages constitute 20 to 30 percent of the overall curricula, with the other six areas accounting for roughly equal shares of the remainder. English is a compulsory subject from the third grade. Besides English and the official language, Mandarin, students from first through sixth grade are required to study one additional language spoken natively in Taiwan—Holo, Hakka or an indigenous language… Local language study is optional in junior high school.’

The Wikipedia entry on Taiwan’s education system offers further detail but may be somewhat outdated. In elementary schools the timetable typically runs from 07.30 to 16.00, except on Wednesday when school finishes at 12.00.

It says that, in junior high schools, the curriculum includes:

  • Classical and modern Chinese literature and poetry, composition and public speaking.
  • Maths, including algebra, geometry, proofs, trigonometry, and pre-calculus.
  • Essential English grammar
  • Science: biology (first year), chemistry (second year), physics (third year), earth science (third year) and technology (all years)
  • Social Studies including civics, history (Taiwan and China in first two years; world history in third year) and geography (Taiwan in first year, China and East Asia in second year and world geography in third year)
  • Home economics, crafts, fine art, music and drama
  • PE and outdoor education.

The Wikipedia entry emphasises that pressure remains intense to achieve the best possible outcome on entrance exams for senior high school, but the Taiwanese Government material gives a different and more up-to-date perspective.

It says that over 97% of students graduating from junior high school in the 2011/12 school year continued their studies. Forty-three percent continued to senior high school while the majority pursued vocational education in either a senior vocational high school or a junior college.

To be admitted to one of these post-compulsory options, students can either make an application or pass a Basic Competence Test comprising Chinese, English, maths, science and social science. The application route is being introduced progressively, while entrance exams are simultaneously phased out.

By 2014:

‘students will be required to sit for competitive entrance exams only if they wish to be admitted to selected schools or specialised programmes’.

Other sources suggest a somewhat different and longer timeline (see further coverage at the end of Part Two).


Post-compulsory Education

Ministry of Education material says that Senior High School education

‘is designed to cultivate physically and mentally sound citizens, laying the foundation for academic research and the acquisition of professional knowledge in later years…’

While Wikipedia adds:

‘In many high schools incoming students may select science or liberal arts tracks depending on where their interests lie. The different learning tracks are commonly referred to as groups. Group I consists of liberal arts students, Group II and Group III of science based students (the latter studies biology as an additional subject). Science based curriculum consists of more rigorous science and mathematics classes intended to prepare the student for a career in the sciences and engineering; the liberal arts track places a heavier emphasis on literature and social studies…’

Another source explains that, during the first two years, the curriculum is similar for all students and they do not specialise until the final year.

‘Core subjects include: Chinese, English, civics, the philosophy of Dr Sun Yat-Sen, history, geography, mathematics, basic science, physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, physical education, music, fine arts, industrial arts, home economics, and military training.’

In 2011, 94.67% of senior high school graduates went on to higher education.


Vocational high schools

‘serve to cultivate technical personnel with professional knowledge and practical skills, and to help students lay the foundation for their future careers.’

They tend to specialise in fields such as agriculture, business, engineering and nursing. Students work towards ‘national examinations for technical or vocational licenses’ required for employment in their chosen field. However almost 82% progress to higher education.

Comprehensive High Schools offer both academic and vocational options and students can select from amongst these before deciding whether to pursue an academic or vocational track.


2006.09.13 courtesy of Max Chu

2006.09.13 courtesy of Max Chu


The History and Development of Gifted Education

Drawing on the distinctions made in the material available online, I have divided the historical development of Taiwanese gifted education into four fairly distinct phases, each of 10 to15 years’ duration:

  • Earliest stages – 1962-1973
  • Development of experimental pilot programmes – 1973-1984
  • Expansion following the 1984 Special Education Law – 1985-1999
  • Development in the early years of this Century, publication of the White Book of Gifted Education in 2007 and subsequent progress.

The remainder of Part One covers the first two phases.


Earliest Stages – 1962 to 1973

The cause of Taiwan’s interest in gifted education was very similar to that in Hong Kong and Singapore: a determination to achieve economic growth through investment in human capital, given the limited natural resources available.

This was formalised in the outcomes of a Fourth National Conference on Education, which took place in 1962. The Conference noted the benefits to gifted learners and to Taiwanese society as a whole.

Some sources say that the earliest provision was developed by a small group of administrators in 1961 (others say 1962), though all agree that there was no formal plan and very little funding.

The Ministry mentions an early pilot for musically talented learners located in Guangren, a private primary school in Taipei. Another source has it that this:

‘began in a private primary school, Kuang-Jen, in Taipei in 1963. Kuang-Jen Primary School was founded in 1959 by the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart of the Blessed Virgin. Since the inception of the SMP in Kuang-Jen, it has come to be regarded as setting the standard for gifted music education.’

Guangren and Kuang-Jen are in fact the same.

Initial pilots for academically gifted learners in two Taipei elementary schools started in 1964. Gifted education began to emerge as a topic at academic conferences and the first research papers were published.

Four years later, when compulsory education was extended to include the three years of junior high school, special education legislation was also introduced which acknowledged the needs of gifted learners.

The Ministry of Education says that the first separate special class for gifted learners with ‘general abilities’ (see 1984 categorisation below) was introduced in 1971 in an elementary school attached to Taichung Normal Junior College (now National Taichung Normal College).

Pupils were selected to undertake experimental courses which supplemented their normal Chinese, maths and science curriculum. Even at this early stage there was emphasis on stimulating creativity.


Development of Experimental Pilot Programmes – 1973 to 1984

The history of developments during this period is heavily reliant on various papers attributed to Wu-Tien Wu, a former Director of the Special Education Center at NTNU.

Elementary School Pilots

In 1973, The Taiwanese Ministry of Education began a nationwide six-year pilot programme in elementary schools. Eleven schools began to offer separate classes for learners identified on the basis of IQ.

Evidently the pilot met with only mixed success. A 1982 paper by Lin and Wu ‘Gifted Education in the Republic of China ROC’ (Gifted and Talented International Volume 1.1) says:

‘Although it has not achieved the results expected by many people, the programme did call people’s attention to the needs of gifted and talented children.’

Another 1985 paper published by Wu, also in Gifted and Talented International (Evaluation of Educational Programmes for Intellectually Gifted Students in Junior High Schools in the Republic of China) adds that, in 1978, the Ministry of Education asked a team at the National Taiwan Normal University to evaluate the pilot as it then operated, in 18 classes drawn from six participating schools.

They were to focus particularly on academic achievement in Chinese and maths, intelligence, anxiety and self-concept. Outcomes were assessed against a comparison group drawn from ordinary classes in the same areas.

Overall, the conclusion rather damns with faint praise:

‘The result has been somewhat satisfactory’.

More specifically, the evaluators found a positive impact on achievement in Chinese and maths, while those in the gifted classes showed less general anxiety but higher test anxiety and had poorer self-concept.

‘Generally speaking the advantages of the gifted education programmes seemed to exceed their disadvantages’


Junior High School Pilots

In 1979, however, the pilot was extended to junior high schools. Wu and Lin explain that government guidelines were published in 1980, providing for redesign of the elementary school pilots as well as extension to the junior highs.

The guidelines set out four aims:

  • To study learners’ intellectual characteristics and creative abilities
  • To develop suitable curriculum and teaching methods
  • To support personal development (‘an integrated and healthy personality’) and so
  • ‘Determine a suitable educational system for gifted students’.

The guidelines specified that two full-time teachers should be deployed in every elementary school gifted class, and three in every junior high school class. No class should contain more than 30 pupils.

A separate class was to be provided where there were enough pupils who met the selection criteria. When there were too few pupils for this purpose, they should stay in their normal class but have access to a ‘special resource classroom’ where they might benefit from supplementary teaching and specially designed materials. Such resource classrooms were often operational after the end of the normal school day.

Participants should be identified through multiple criteria including teacher and parental recommendation, individual and group intelligence tests, as well as tests of aptitude and creativity.

One source suggests that pupils attending resource classrooms should be accelerated by one grade, especially in science, maths and languages, but there is no further reference to this.

Moreover, the guidelines advocated an ‘enrichment approach’ designed to expand learners’ knowledge and understanding. Teachers were encouraged to develop supplementary resources to complement the standard textbooks, to use creative teaching methods and problem-solving strategies. Additional activities – research, field trips, sport and recreation – were to be available during the summer and winter holidays.

Teachers were expected to undertake specialist training, while area-based expert ‘consultation groups’ were to support programme development and evaluation.

By 1981, one source says 36 elementary and 19 junior high schools were involved in these various pilot programmes involving over 3,000 learners. Another source gives different figures – 69 schools, 362 teachers and 5,055 students – while a third provides different figures again (these are included in Table 1 below)

Two evaluation teams visited twelve participating schools in the final year of the junior high school pilot. Eight of the twelve offered special classes and four had resource classrooms.

Six focused on ‘general intellectual development’ while four specialised in maths and science and two in languages.

Of the 1,000 students covered by the evaluation, 814 were in special classes and 274 in resource classrooms. The evaluators randomly selected comparison groups.

They were asked to assess:

  • Impact on achievement, creative thinking and personal adjustment;
  • The comparative effectiveness of special classes and resource classrooms; and
  • Obstacles to effective implementation.

They found that emphasis on additional enrichment declined as students approached their all-important entrance examinations for senior high school. Overall benefits were proportionately greater for younger students. Most schools tended to place too much emphasis on imparting knowledge and too little on cultivating creative, leadership and communication skills.

Some less motivated learners were permitted to remain in special classes and this caused problems, while on the other hand ‘homeroom teachers were reluctant to let the truly gifted go to the special class’.

Resource classrooms created more problems for administrators, including timetabling and deployment issues. Almost half of the teachers had no formal training in gifted education.

Parents were generally supportive but were ‘preoccupied with the idea that entering the best senior high school was the best thing for their children’. This placed pressure on the schools and influenced teaching.

Parents were also concerned that the resource class model imposed excessive workload because the children had to complete work for two teachers rather than one. Learners – including those attending resource classes – preferred the special classes for the same reason.


Other developments

Wu explains that pilot programmes were extended into senior high schools when a third phase was begun in 1982, but these were confined to maths and science. The elementary and junior high pilot activity continued alongside.

The Ministry of Education had already established a ‘Sunshine Summer Camp’ in 1980, run by the Special Education Center at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU). It offered junior high school students from Taipei and its surrounding area a two week programme comprising university-based study, group counselling, problem-solving, leadership training, sports and recreational activities. Additional camps supported by various universities and colleges also developed during this period.

In 1983 the Ministry introduced a separate national talent search programme for exceptionally gifted pupils in maths, physics and chemistry. This enabled school age students to be admitted early to university without taking entrance examinations. Participants were selected following a week-long science camp at NTNU.

In the first round in 1983, 34 students from 9th Grade and 12 from 12th Grade were selected. By 1988, this had increased to 467 9th Grade and 211 12th Grade students. Almost 1,000 candidates attended the initial camps.

Also in 1983 the Ministry introduced measures to allow elementary school pupils to complete the curriculum a year early by skipping or telescoping grades. In the first year 40 pupils entered junior high schools early.

Support for those talented in music, fine arts, dance and sports had been expanded progressively since 1973, with continuing involvement from private schools. During that year, one Taipei elementary school and two in Taichung began to run separate classes for musically talented learners.

By 1980, funded music provision began to be extended to a few public senior high schools and, from the following year, similar provision was developed in fine arts, dance, and sports. Ministry sources add that students could for the first time obtain exemption from entrance examinations.

Special education centres were formed at two National Teachers Colleges and at NTNU (the latter in 1974) to promote and support the emerging national gifted programme. These were subsequently extended to eight provincial normal colleges. Such centres supported interaction between researchers and teachers.

In 1973 the Ministry also began to publish a Gifted Education Monograph (elsewhere called the Research Bulletin of Gifted Education). In 1981 NTNU launched its own periodical ‘Gifted Education Quarterly’.

In 1981, Lin and Wu highlighted some of the outstanding issues then facing Taiwanese gifted education. These included:

  • Improving knowledge and understanding of gifted education and developing positive attitudes towards gifted learners. There is concern that too much pressure is placed upon them.
  • Introducing a broader concept of giftedness, extending a predominantly intellectual focus to embrace leadership, creative and psychomotor skills.
  • Developing a system-wide approach to gifted education covering all sectors and addressing obstacles associated with inflexible examinations and grading systems.
  • Improving professional development for specialist teachers who typically attend course of 4-12 weeks’ duration. Teacher selection, course content and subsequent networking all need attention. Improved coverage in initial teacher education may also be needed.


Spirited Away courtesy of Direct Positive

Spirited Away courtesy of Direct Positive


Expansion following the 1984 Special Education Law


The Shape of the System

Wu is again responsible for much of the available analysis during this period.

On at least two occasions – in1992 and 2000 respectively – he utilises a framework first articulated by his compatriot Wang in a 1992 paper ‘A survey on related problems and teaching strategies in gifted education program in Taiwan’.

The breaks down the ‘operational system’ into three levels:

  • Supervisory level, including policy, legislation and guidance, responsible ‘administrative organisations and research;
  • Implementation level, including identification, placement, supply of teachers, curriculum, pedagogy and teaching materials;
  • Resource level, covering parental and community involvement and the contribution of the private sector.


Framework for analysis of Taiwan's gifted education Capture


I have adopted a similar framework for this analysis, adding material from other sources and highlighting changes of emphasis and detail between them. Wu and others devote significantly more attention to the first two of these categories, providing relatively little material about the ‘Resource level’.



Chapter 2 of the 1984 Special Education Law (SEL) was devoted to gifted education, setting out definitions, identification procedures, placement arrangements, curriculum design, support, teacher development and allocation of resources.

It formally divided Taiwan’s gifted learners into three distinct categories:

  • those with general abilities (the intellectually gifted)
  • those with scholastic aptitude in particular academic disciplines (maths, science, language etc) and
  • those with special talents (music, fine arts, drama, dance and sport)

Under the terms of the legislation, the first category above is called ‘gifted’ while the second and third are called ‘talented’.

The SEL added more flexibility to the 1983 acceleration reforms, enabling highly gifted learners to skip more than one grade at each level of the education system (primary, junior high, senior high and university).



In his 1992 paper (pp 415-424) Wu has relatively little to say about the supervisory level, but describes the different elements of the implementation level thus:

  • Identification: intellectually gifted learners are screened at school level through teacher observation, evidence of achievement and the outcomes of group intelligence tests. Those falling within the top 10% take several more group and individual tests (including the Stanford-Binet, WISC-R, Raven’s Matrices and Torrance Test of Creative Thinking). These are administered at the students’ schools but under the supervision of ‘the university guidance institute’. Although described as a ‘multi-assessment procedure’ it is clear that possession of an IQ measure above 130 is the basic selection criterion.


Identification process Capture


For those with artistic or musical talent, selection generally involves auditions and aptitude tests, though there seems an expectation that successful candidates will also possess ‘a higher than average IQ’.

  • Programme design: although overarching curricular goals are set by central government, gifted programmes are locally determined by schools with support from colleges and universities. Refinements are introduced in the light of monitoring meetings involving both teachers and experts. Examples of issues addressed include the design of follow-up and evaluation studies and the content of summer enrichment activities. There is strong emphasis on enrichment and use of ‘creative teaching methods’ such as peer-tutoring, debates, experiments and games. Students undertake their own research projects drawing on independent study. Teachers are facilitators and guides. Affective development is not neglected – Wu uses as an example arrangements whereby gifted learners provide peer tutoring to low achieving peers.

‘Consequently, gifted children develop not only a gifted mind but, more importantly, a tender and loving heart.’

Opportunities for acceleration have increased, including provision for students in school to take university science courses at weekends under the National Science Council’s College Pre-Enrolling Project.

  • Teacher development: Certification as a teacher of gifted education depends on completion of 20 hours of professional development. This may be accumulated through weekend, summer and week-long term-time courses. The Ministry of Education pays for Government staff and academics to access training and conferences abroad. It also sends teams to review practice in other countries.
  • Resources: Schools receive government funding to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in gifted classes and to develop teaching materials, upgrade classrooms and buy necessary equipment. They utilise trips to local libraries, museums and broadcasters. Nevertheless, many need to raise additional funds from commercial sources or through the parents’ association. This can mean that different schools have different levels of support, and that some gifted programmes are better resourced than other parts of a school. There is an increasing supply of books and materials from city or county-level education authorities and commercial publishers.

It is perhaps also worth mentioning that Taiwan’s involvement with the international Olympiad movement dates from this era. From 1992 they participated in the 33rd International Maths Olympiad (IMO) and in the International Chemistry Olympiad (ICO). From 1994 they also took part in the International Physics Olympiad (IPO).

Selection for the science Olympiads was based on a national talent search undertaken by NTNU with Ministry of Education sponsorship. Candidates took part in a 9-day science camp and finalists attended a ‘semi-intensive’ training camp for one month before the competition.



In his 1992 treatment, Wu notes that several holiday programmes have been developed in the private sector:

‘For instances, the Chinese Youth Summer Camp, Audio-visual Library, Learning Camp, Computer Camp, Recreation Camp, and Chorus and Orchestra Clubs were among the programmes sponsored by these organizations in the past.’

Parental involvement seems to be confined principally to financial donations and voluntary activity.


Problems and Issues

In a 1989 paper ‘Cultivating Genius’ Wu sets out some of the issues being experienced midway through this period.

  • By 1989, the separate self-contained gifted class have become significantly more common than the ‘resource class’ approach, though the Ministry has recently concentrated on increasing the number of resource classes. Research has identified strengths and weaknesses in each model. Though parents tend to favour separate classes, these are more costly and some schools have insufficient funding to offer them. Evaluation suggests that the separate classes improve both academic achievement and creative thinking, but some experts believe that students ‘do not learn to adjust socially or interact smoothly with mainstream pupils’. On the other hand, pupils in resource classes ‘are often regarded as “unusual specimens” both by the teachers and by their peers’.
  • Continuity has become an issue since many learners in elementary-level special classes have no progression route into similar classes at junior high school. This can cause ‘a difficult readjustment’. Though a new junior and senior high school programme has been introduced, it has not yet been fully implemented.
  • Parents remain fixated on the senior high school entrance examinations, the results of which determine which school students can attend. These exams are:

‘highly structured affairs that reward diligent study of prescribed texts and prodigious feats of memorisation…Parents therefore do not want their gifted children to risk failure by taking class work not specifically designed to pass this key examination—better to follow the complex structured curriculum than be too creative and study materials “useless” for the exams!’

This attitude also inhibits teachers from using creative teaching methods.

  • The 20 credit hours required for certification of gifted education teachers is too little. Teachers are challenged by the speed with which their students ‘consume’ material they have prepared and ‘have every right to complain of overwork’. Because they must also show that special classes are worth the investment made by the school, many ‘push their pupils to struggle for first place in every academic contest possible’. The Government has taken steps to increase the supply of qualified staff, since class sizes of 30 are proving too big.

Although there are positive signs of progress – research is focused on improving teacher education and assessment of student attitudes; curriculum reforms are seeking to balance the requirements of the senior high school entrance exam against more interesting content – experts are pressing the Government to adopt a more robust long-term gifted education policy.

By 1992, Wu’s list of issues is slightly different, including:

  • A need to expand the programme to train those with different talents that contribute to society;
  • Developing progression routes to senior high schools that do not depend on the entrance examinations;
  • The evaluation of the wide variety of accelerative models that have emerged;
  • An expectation that expansion of the resource room model, rather than the special class model, will continue because it ‘has been supported by some educators and most administrators’;
  • A need to introduce more robust and systematic evaluations of gifted programmes;
  • A continuing need to secure an integrated approach across elementary, junior and senior high schools, and also the integration of pre-school programmes, learning from examples in the private sector.
  • Support for twice-exceptional students and
  • Giving top priority to ‘providing the gifted students with a conducive, ecological environment. Just as a sprout needs nutrients to grow, ecological resources are called for in order for the gifted to have their potential fully developed’.


The Size and Growth of the Programme

Tables 1 and 2 below show the rate of growth of Taiwan’s gifted education programme during this period. They are compiled from various different sources but all the figures agree (except the one marked *). However, as we have seen, there are at least three different versions of the earliest figures for 1981!

Table 1 shows that, whereas gifted students outnumbered their talented peers in 1981 and the proportions were broadly equal in 1984, the number of talented students grew more rapidly and subsequently became significantly larger.

It is also evident that, while increases in numbers were substantial in the 1980s and early 1990s, there had been a significant slowing of expansion by 1997.

1981 1984 1987 1991 1997
Gifted 3475 4490 6356 9846 10090
(+29%) (+42%) (+55%) (+2%)
Talented 2366 4347 7404 16167 22479
(+84%) (+70%) (+118%) (+39%)
Total 5841 8837 13760 26013 32569*
(+51%) (+56%) (+89%) (+25%)

Table 1: Numbers of Gifted and Talented Students 1981-1997


Table 2 shows that the number of gifted/talented students increased most rapidly in senior high schools over this period but, by 1997, elementary schools were enjoying a relatively faster rate of expansion.

1987 1991 1997
Elementary Schools 144 171
Classes 460
Students 7061 11860 15070
(+40%) (+27%)
Junior High Schools 117 142
Classes 344
Students 4999 10266 11334
(+105%) (+10%)
Senior High Schools 46 90
Classes 120
Students 1700 3887 6182
(+129%) (+59%)
Total Schools 175 307 403
Classes 506 924 1223
Students 13760 26013 32586*
(+89%) (+25%)

Table 2: Numbers of Gifted/Talented Schools, Classes and Students by Sector, 1987-1997


Other data snippets:

  • By 1987, Taiwan’s overall student population was around 3.6m, of which 3% were assumed to be gifted/talented, but only 13% of the latter were supported by gifted and talented programmes; by 1991, around 0.6% the total student population was supported in gifted and talented programmes.
  • In 1991 the balance between male and female participants in gifted programmes was 57% female and 43% male; by 1997, the differential had increased to 18% (59% female and 41% male).
  • From 1995 to 2000, the rate of increase in gifted students fell to around  3% per year, mainly because, according to Wu:

‘In the wake of recent increased demands for educational reform in Taiwan, public attention has placed much more emphasis on the special educational needs of children with disabilities than on the gifted/talented. Gifted education seems to have been left out and it is not even mentioned in the “Final Report of Educational Reform” (Executive Yuan, R.O.C., 1996). On the other hand, “education for the disabled” has been highlighted and very well funded.

This marks the end of Part One. In Part Two we shall explore the development of Taiwanese gifted education since the turn of the Twenty-First Century.



February 2013

Gifted Phoenix 2012 Review and Retrospective


I thought it might be neat – as well as useful – to round out this year’s blogging with a mildly self-congratulatory review, looking back at the various posts I’ve written about giftedness and gifted education.

New Year Fireworks courtesy of RobW_

New Year Fireworks courtesy of RobW_


I have embedded links to every post, so this is also an index of sorts. If you missed anything first time round, now’s your chance to catch up before next year’s programme kicks off.

This is my 40th post of 2012. There were none in August (holidays) or in October (heavy research and some privately commissioned work). I published between three and six posts in each of the remaining ten months. I haven’t attempted an accurate word count, but my best guess is roughly 200,000.



National Studies

I’ve published four ‘signature’ features on national systems of gifted education:

  • South Korea – Parts One and Two;
  • Singapore – Parts One and Two;
  • New Zealand’s Excellence Gap – Parts One and Two; and

The first two were studies of ‘Asian Tigers’, intended to showcase the particular significance of gifted education to a select group of jurisdictions that are so often held up as educational paragons for us to emulate as best we can. They complement an earlier series about gifted education in Hong Kong.

The New Zealand post was this year’s contribution to the NZ Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour. It attracted a lot less attention (and, consequently, much less vituperation) than I had anticipated. The substance of my argument is that New Zealanders are over-focused on ethnic achievement gaps, including at the top end, rather than socio-economic achievement gaps (which will of course have a significant ethnic dimension).

The post on Israel was a huge task, given the immense range of background material available online. I knew that Israel had a long pedigree in the field, but hadn’t appreciated that it was quite so extensive. Much of this activity deserves to be better known and better understood – and I hope my post has made some small contribution to that end.


The Directory of Gifted Education Centres

Four more of my posts during 2012 are contributions to an ongoing series about important centres for the delivery and support of gifted education:

  • Back in January I produced a postscript to my earlier work on the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education (HKAGE) analysing recently published data about the Academy’s effectiveness;


Theoretical Posts

A third group of posts can perhaps best be regarded as contributions to the theoretical underpinnings of gifted education.

  • At the beginning of the year I offered a piece called ‘Are All Children Gifted?’ – Parts One and Two – which was prompted by an initial discussion on Twitter. The first part set out my personal position, together with a frame for the consideration of statements of this kind. The second part analysed three different examples of the genre.
  • Later that spring I published ‘A Bold Step in Broadly the Right Direction…But There’s a Big But!’ This is my contribution to the vociferous and sometimes violent debate prompted by the publication of ‘Taking a Bold Step’ an article by Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, President of the US National Association for Gifted Children. Fundamentally, I argue for an inclusive, consensual position that can be supported by advocates of trait-based giftedness on one hand and gifted education as talent development on the other. But I place myself firmly in the latter camp, subject only to profound reservations over the idea that gifted education must be devoted to the nurturing of adult eminence.


Social Media

In the summer several posts were dedicated to consideration of the contribution that social media might make to gifted education.

I chaired a Symposium on this topic at the ECHA 29012 Conference in Munster, Germany. Two preparatory posts, published in July and September respectively, were concerned with the Symposium itself, including arrangements for a linked #gtchat on Twitter, designed to embody in practice some of the Symposium’s key messages.

There was also a substantive post ‘Can Social Media Help Overcome the Problems We Face in Gifted Education – Part One and Two. This considered how social media might be harnessed to support advocacy, learning, policy-making, professional development and research, offering several suggestions for worthwhile collaborative projects.

Finally, in October, I published a full review of the Conference as a whole, including reflections on the Symposium. This offered some potential learning points for the next conference in Ljubliana in two years’ time.

It is gratifying that the organisers have already been in touch expressing their willingness to act on such feedback. The Conference itself is called ‘Rethinking Giftedness: Giftedness in the Digital Age’, so this is perhaps the perfect opportunity to address some of these issues directly. I hope I can play an active part in that.




Posts Pertaining to English Gifted Education

Six of my posts dealt with the impact of English education policy on gifted learners, including high attainers.

  • In February I published a Policy Statement on the English School Performance Tables for GT Voice. This was drafted on behalf of the Board and revised in the light of comments received from other members. Later in the year, in early October, I resigned from the Board in protest at the very limited progress made since GT Voice was first established. I am still a member and – despite continuing forebodings – I very much hope that GT Voice can develop some real momentum in 2013.
  • The GT Voice Policy Statement was produced in response to the 2011 Performance Tables. In December I produced an analysis of the performance of High Attaining Pupils in the 2012 Primary Tables. There was evidence of real improvement between 2011 and 2012, though changes to statutory tests were a complicating factor and there is still considerable scope for further improvement in 2013 and beyond
  • Three posts dating from the early summer consider issues arising from the emerging outcomes of England’s National Curriculum Review. The first considered The Removal of National Curriculum Levels and the Implications for Able Pupils’ Progression. This was supplemented by a proposed Basic Framework for National Curriculum Assessment. A final post traced the clarification of Government policy over the secondary National Curriculum and replacement of existing GCSE qualifications taken at age 16. Initial media statements presaging full abolition of the secondary National Curriculum were succeeded by plans for a ‘skeleton’ comprising:

‘very, very short programmes of study that will give teachers “extreme” and “almost total” freedom over what is taught’.

  .Six months on, these are still to be published.

  • Two posts were dedicated to dissecting reports published by the Sutton Trust. The first considering its proposals for an Open Access Scheme; the second analysing a Report on ‘Educating the Highly Able’. I’m afraid I found them equally unconvincing. The first depends on a substantial taxpayer investment in independent (private sector) schools at a time when budgets are stretched as never before, quite apart from the fact that it would also denude state schools of all their most able learners. The second fails entirely to acknowledge the proposals in the first. By defining high ability almost exclusively in terms of high attainment, its proposed course of action would serve only to increase the ‘excellence gap’ between disadvantaged gifted learners and their peers.


Twitter Round-ups

I provided eight comprehensive listings of Gifted Phoenix Tweets during 2012. The first seven were monthly reviews, but the eighth and last marked a shift to quarterly/termly round-ups:

Gifted Phoenix on Twitter provides comprehensive coverage of global gifted education news, as well as links to useful research, commentary and resources made freely available online.

My Twitter feed also offers balanced analysis of wider education policy here in England, while specialising in unearthing and sharing newsworthy educational material from public sector sources. This supports the cause of greater transparency, espoused by the Government and opposition parties alike. It also helps ‘proper’ educational journalists keep up to speed.

Gifted Phoenix published around 6,500 Tweets during 2012. It has over 3,000 followers including several very influential politicians and educationalists.


Key Documents

Finally, I published a brief post drawing readers’ attention to an evolving Key Documents section of this Blog.

My plan is to build incrementally a global library of freely available documents, wherever possible (ie where copyright provisions appear not to stand in the way) by storing a PDF on the site.

When future posts need to reference the documents in question, I can link to the copy on this Blog rather than relying on external URLs. This should significantly reduce the incidence of dead links.

Phase One of this project is now almost complete, in that the ‘Gifted Education in the United Kingdom’ section is fully stocked with uploadable PDFs. I shall begin to stock the ‘Gifted Education in the Rest of the World’ and ‘Research’ sections during the coming year.



It is never wise to place too much faith in Blog analytics, but WordPress suggests my readership almost doubled in 2012 compared with the previous year.

There have been visits from 151 countries since 1 April. Some 48.5% of those visitors are resident in the United States or the United Kingdom.

The next largest readerships are located in Singapore, Saudi Arabia, India, Australia, Germany, France, Canada, Malaysia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the Philippines respectively

The ten most read posts during the year (including some published before 2012) are:

Mawhiba: Gifted Education in Saudi Arabia (Part One)

Gifted Education in South Korea – Part One

The Removal of National Curriculum Levels and the Implications for Able Pupils’ Progression

Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education: An In-Depth Analysis

Gifted Education in Singapore: Part 1

Gifted Education in Singapore: Part 2

The European Council for High Ability (ECHA)

Are Leonardo Schools a Good Model of Gifted Education?

USA: Maryland – Center for Talented Youth (CTY), Johns Hopkins University



As we move into 2013, may I take this opportunity to wish all my visitors and readers a very Happy New Year.

I have several very interesting posts planned for the early part of next year. I hope they will continue to meet your needs but, if you would like me to address a particular topic, please don’t hesitate to suggest it.



December 2012

An Evolving Gifted Education Key Documents Collection


Regular visitors may have noticed that I am evolving and populating a set of Key Documents Pages as an integral part of this Blog.

I envisage discrete sections for:

  • Gifted Education in the UK
  • Gifted Education in the Rest of the World and
  • Gifted Education Research

Each section will be divided by year of publication, for this century at least, with an additional catch-all category for anything published before 2000. Depending on the size of the ‘rest of the world’ section, I might sub-divide the material by continent.

Each page will carry a gallery of captioned thumbnails of the publications produced in that year. Visitors can click on the relevant thumbnail to launch a PDF of the document in question.

My first priority is to stock the pages on Gifted Education in the UK, starting with contemporary material and working back in time.

I want to create a chronological record of the work undertaken at national level in the UK, particularly in England, over the period I have been involved. It is all too easy to forget just how much was achieved, particularly since the forces of revisionism are already in play.

Most of these documents have more than historical value – they remain directly relevant to the development of national policy and practice, whether in the UK or elsewhere in the world.

Everything on these pages has been sourced online, though drawn from a host of different locations. I wanted to bring all the material into a single user-friendly online repository, for the ease and benefit of potential readers.

At this stage I am incorporating only those documents which do not seem to be restricted by copyright, though I will be seeking permissions in cases where copyright may be an obstacle.

More significant copyright problems are likely when I come to stock the pages for research and the rest of the world, though there may be ways to work round this. The last resort will be to provide hyperlinks to material located elsewhere, though that has significant ‘dead link’ downside!

The UK Gifted Education pages populated to date are:

Do let me know if these are useful, or if I can improve them in any way (recognising the limitations of the platform that hosts this Blog).

If you hold additional material that should be included in any of the three sections – particularly if you own the copyright – please send me your documents and I will add them to the library.

Leaving aside basic quality assurance, my only stipulation is that, for the time being at least, everything should be written in English. (I don’t rule out adding material in other languages in due course.)



November 2012