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Supporting gifted and talented children

'Gifted' children develop cognitively at a much faster rate than they develop physically, emotionally and socially. Their high-level capabilities may be broadly intellectual or in specific academic fields.

Why is the concept of gifted controversial?

Gifted is one of a number of issues in education that cause the blood to stir. For some, 'gifted' is an elitist concept that beggars definition; others do not see what all the fuss is about because a gifted child will always do well, won't they?

And while many people might assume it’s a blessing having a gifted child, the reality is that rapidly grasping what others cannot can lead to boredom, frustration and inappropriate behaviour. In all these cases there are challenges for parents, teachers and the child, who sees conforming to the norm as a major peer requirement. 

Gifted or talented? 

In England, the Department for Education (DfE) distinguishes between gifted learners and talented children:

  • Gifted learners are those who have particular academic abilities;
  • Talented learners are those who have particular abilities in the creative arts (such as music, art and design, drama, dance) or PE.

Some schools (and parents) prefer the term ‘more able’ or ‘high ability’ children because they see these terms as being less elitist and more inclusive, but the term ‘gifted’ is very much part of the official language.

More information 

The Good Schools Guide has more information about gifted and talented children, including:

  • Gifted toddlers
  • What to expect from school
  • Problems facing a gifted child
  • Do gifted children have special needs?
  • Providing the learning for gifted children
  • Should a gifted child be educated with older children?

Please see the links below for organisations that specialise in advising and supporting families with gifted and talented children.

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