Gifted and talented education in England 1999–2009: Policy framework and aims
This chapter analyses the development since 1999 of education policy in England designed to improve the education of students identified as gifted and talented. We argue that the policy formation, which includes a strong and distinctive emphasis on embedding the policy in mainstream schools, can be seen as part of the New Labour government’s concerns for both social equity and increased performativity. We offer a critique of what has been called the ‘English model’ of provision and how this has begun to be embedded in the mainstream system. We also examine problems around the conceptualisation and assessment of giftedness and talent in the English model and question its efficacy, impact and success. The chapter is in five parts. First, the broader policy background and social context which led to a deliberate focus on gifted and talented provision in the closing years of the twentieth century is discussed. Secondly, there is a detailed elaboration of the development of the policy framework over the last decade 1999-2009. Thirdly, the ‘English’ model is examined for its rationale and values as well as its impact in practice. Fourthly, the nature of giftedness and its assessment in the English model is problematised. Finally, further questions are raised around unresolved problems for teachers and other stakeholders.