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Hard to identify

Pupil smiling

It may be easy for high achieving learners to be identified but being gifted and talented is more than the ability to succeed in tests and exams. Potential might also be hidden, or masked by factors such as self-esteem, boredom, language skills and learning difficulties.

Underachievement can be recognised through the behaviour and characteristics of the learner. Indicators of underachievement fall into three categories.

  • Performing (performance is lower than intellectual potential).
  • Divergent behaviour (high potential pupils may be aggressive, withdrawn or disruptive).
  • Disadvantage (ability masked by disability or disadvantaged background) (Moira Thomson).

Multiple exceptionality describes learners who have a combination of a learning difficulty and who are gifted.

For students where English is an additional language (EAL) it can be difficult to identify areas where they students are gifted and talented due to difficulties acquiring English language skills. Consequently their true ability will be concealed and hard to identify. There are two dimensions to this problem for schools.

  • Access issues - relating to early identification and helping the pupil to participate in the curriculum
  • Support for advanced learners - where high achievement is dependent on understanding the technical and culturally specific demands of the curriculum.

Schools will need to ensure that both of these are tackled if EAL learners are to succeed in national tests.