Magazine article English Drama Media

Meeting the Needs of Your Most Able Pupils: English

Magazine article English Drama Media

Meeting the Needs of Your Most Able Pupils: English

Article excerpt

Meeting the Needs of

Your Most Able Pupils:


Erica Glew, Routledge, 2007,

18.99 [pounds sterling]

ISBN 978-1-84312-261


I should confess that I've always had difficulties with the notion of 'gifted and talented' in relation to English. Such is the complex nature of the subject and such is the range of skills and content coming under its umbrella, it has always seemed to me dangerous to generalise about ability. I have tried to confront and resolve these difficulties, even going so far as to teach at a NAGTY (National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth) Summer School, but trying to make sense of the disparate group of students in front of me there only added to my conceptual problems in this area. It was with some hope, then, that I approached Meeting the Needs of Your Most Able Pupils: English, thinking it might shed some much needed light on this tricky area.

Although it is true that to some extent Meeting the Needs does acknowledge the--perhaps unique--complexity of English with regard to ability, stating that progress is neither 'simple, nor linear' in the subject, it's the case that the text, generally, sidesteps, rather than confronts, such issues. After an introduction that makes some rather damning assertions about the fate of able pupils in the past, the first two chapters tend to work on what might best be called a generic level. Since this text is one of a series dealing with different secondary disciplines, I would assume that these two chapters are all but replicated in the sister titles. The first chapter gives a useful historical overview of national and local initiatives around 'Gifted and Talented', while the second looks at departmental policy. This chapter may be quite helpful to someone given the role of 'G and T Coordinator', but it is general advice rather than subject specific. Though English is mentioned in the model job description and policy, there is the admission, for example, that English Departments rarely use such techniques as 'partial acceleration'. Thus, many of the quotations within this chapter come from mathematicians and scientists.

The final four chapters ought to be where the subject specificity comes to the fore, dealing as they do with the identification of able students, and then provision and support within and beyond the classroom. Ideas on the identification of such students are, however, again fairly general, though there are some potentially interesting case studies which do focus on performance and ability within English. …

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