Mental health and the gifted and talented

Today I want to talk about : Mental health and the gifted and talented

I wanted to talk to you about this because there was a time when Ofsted scrutiny was about looking at provision for the gifted and talented. Do you remember that?

Today it is not a specific area of scrutiny and this has implications for those of us committed to inclusion, special needs and mental health.

Firstly, the school’s inclusion agenda should inform the special needs policy- and this should include all learners who need additional support- of which the gifted and talented are one group.  SEN does not only mean those with learning difficulties. These pupils may appear on the data sheets as on track and in receipt of the Pupil Premium. 

Secondly, many of the gifted and talented learners experience mental health challenges. They are often super-sensitive. They may have very high self-imposed expectations of themselves and can be devastated by failure or inadequacy. Parental and peer pressure only add to this. Frustration and boredom add to the mix, as well as feeling different and unaccepted. 

These pupils have additional needs that need supporting in a different way from those with SEN however, the ‘clever’ child, the gifted musician, the sports-talented will have factors in common when it come to emotional vulnerability. 

Do you meet their needs at your school? Here are a few prompts to set you thinking;

  • Are the school’s procedures for identifying gifted and talented evident, transparent, non-discriminatory, flexible and effective?
  • Do teachers pay attention to their style of questions and explanations to develop these creative minds?
  • What enrichment and extension activities are in use?
  • Are there any setting or groupings to assist accelerated learning?
  • Are pupil attitudes challenged regarding negative stereo-typing of the gifted and talented e.g. the swot, the nerd?
  • Are any particular groups of pupils under-represented in the cohort of gifted and talented? What is your explanation for this?
  • And who is the lead for this area- the inclusion manager, the SENDCO, who?

I know this may be ‘yet another thing to think about’!

Please do think about it, even if only from the point of view of enhancing your SATs scores. Meeting the special mental health needs of these pupils will only improve your data- and you will feel so much better that all your pupils’ needs are met at your school.