Sir Peter Lampl welcomes plans for a new independent fund for the highly able, reports Patrick Wintour in the Guardian
Labour must challenge its own taboos about helping the most gifted and talented children in schools by reviving plans to do more nationally to help them, the shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, has said today. Hunt has told the Guardian that in government he plans to set up a special fund, administered independently, to advise teachers on what they can do to stretch the most talented children in primary and secondary schools.
Hunt is proposing that schools be entitled to bid for monies from the Gifted and Talented Fund to help their work in stretching their most able pupils. It is likely to have a £15m pot initially, and will set up a new evidence base on how to encourage talented children. International research shows that, with most resources focused on improving the performance of the lowest achievers, the UK performs badly in helping the most talented children.
His plan comes as the government prepares this week to give to go-ahead to a new annex to a grammar school in Sevenoaks in Kent, in effect a new grammar school. Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, welcomed Hunt’s plan, saying: “Our research shows that England compares poorly with other countries in its provision for the highly able. Weak school support for able students contributes to a big university access gap, where those from the richest fifth of neighbourhoods are more than nine times more likely to go to our best universities than those from the poorest fifth of neighbourhoods. Put simply, too many bright young people from low- and middle-income families are being let down.”
Research shows that the OECD average for pupils reaching the highest levels of performance at age 15 in maths is 3.1%, whereas in the England it is just 1.7%, with the majority coming from independent or grammar schools. This leaves the UK ranked 26th out of 34 OECD areas, behind Shanghai (27%), Singapore (16%), Switzerland (8%) and Belgium (6%). In literacy, England performs around the average, but again the top-performing pupils are overwhelmingly drawn from independent and grammar schools.