Sally McKeownSally McKeownPersonalised learning brings opportunities for gifted and talented children. Sally McKeown (left) provides 10 top tips for improving gifted and talented provision, and offers a BETT 2009 trail for visitors.

This year personalised learning should highlight excellence. If you are responsible for gifted and talented provision, it’s a good time to audit what you are doing. Most schools have a gifted and talented register with a named person to co-ordinate activities, but all too often it can end up as a very low-key affair.

If your gifted and talented programme consists of an extra-curricular programme at the end of the school day or some extra opportunities in the holiday, now is the time to take stock and make 2009 the year when you make a real difference to the million or more gifted and talented learners to be found in schools and colleges.

1 The DCSF is running City GATES, the programme dedicated to improving outcomes for gifted and talented 14-19 year olds in London, the Black Country and Greater Manchester. Find out about this on stand S36.

Is your gifted and talented provision intrinsic, where the school concentrates on work within the classroom to stretch pupils? If so, identify what you are already doing in the school: organise a celebration evening showing the excellent work already produced by gifted and talented pupils in your school, including sporting events, drama performances and concerts.

3 Is gifted and talented provision extrinsic, where the school focuses on external events such as summer schools for able pupils, visits abroad, enterprise weeks, debating competitions and science challenges? Publicise and brand these, so they are seen as part of the gifted provision in the school.

4 The National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE ) recommends that schools should have a specific section in lesson plans and on observation feedback forms, indicating how a lesson has been differentiated for the most able.

5 Have a focus group where gifted and talented pupils can suggest ways of enhancing provision. Talk to FutureLab (BETT stand J11, about developing and recording the learner voice.

6 Use a section of the school’s website to market the gifted and talented opportunities to parents of current and prospective pupils. Don’t just rely on print: look at developing podcasts. Have a talk with Softease on BETT stand E60 ( and ask to see Podium.

7 Make the work of gifted and talented pupils a resource for the whole class. If you are busy compiling information on topics which occur regularly on an exam syllabus, share the load with a wiki. If you don’t know how to do it, go and talk to EduGeek on stand G89 (

8 Gifted and talented capabilities come in all shapes and sizes, so don’t just focus on words. Visual learners will excel with images, photographs and films. See the winners of National Schools Film and Animation Awards on the TAG Learning LTD stand (A56).

9 Is gifted and talented an item for Continual Professional Development (CPD)? Does this need to be an external course or could it arise out of in-house projects and home grown skills?

10 Find good resources for all the staff. The Young Gifted and Talented Programme (YG&T, stand K29) is showing the portal ( that will host Faculty Cafés, specialist online study groups, the new Eco-Builder learning activity, and a Learner Catalogue featuring resources, events and opportunities.

BETT 2009 logo

Sally McKeown writes regularly for the Gifted and Talented Update website. Her latest book, Screens and Pages – Technology and Reading for Pleasure, will be published by NIACE in the spring.

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DOWNLOAD Sally's BETT 2009 Gifted and Talented Tour as a Word document