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Extra Independence For Casterton Youngsters


News: Extra Independence For Casterton Youngsters

Thursday, 18th March 2004
(PR 1185)

More able children are being encouraged to share their skills with classmates and accept extra responsibility.

Casterton Primary School in Burnley is one of many Lancashire schools which has been leading the way in encouraging their more able pupils to extend their learning and independence.

A group of 15 pupils at Casterton have been identified for the "Able, Gifted and Talented" programme because of their academic ability or thanks to their special talent in sports, music or art.

The children, who are in Years Five and Six, are not regarded as an "elite", but are encouraged to share ideas with their fellow pupils and take the lead in class discussions or act as peer mentors.

In day-to-day classes the more able pupils work alongside the rest of the group, but often look at an issue in more depth and might be asked to work on the computer and research a subject before reporting back to their colleagues.

The school secured £8000 of Government funding per year to cater for their more able pupils which has been put towards staff training, inviting special guests to speak to the pupils, learning resources and excursions for the children such as a recent visit to Walshaw High School's zoo laboratory or covering the cost of an advanced gymnastics course for talented gymnasts.

Able and talented co-ordinator at the school, Sue Parkin, said:

"Every child needs as much help as they can get whatever level they are working to.

"These children are potentially the professionals of the future and they need experience of working independently and taking on extra responsibility at this age.

"Working with the more able pupils has a positive affect on the whole school as it raises standards across the board.

"The other children tend to copy the behaviour of the ones who have been identified as more able and this leads to a willingness to learn throughout the school."

Leigh Martin, aged 11, said:

"I like helping my friends in class and making sure that we are all following what is going on.

"I like the responsibility and it's interesting being able to do extra work sometimes which we bring back to the rest of the class."

David Wallace, aged 11, said:

"I really enjoy helping my friends if they are struggling and it's good being able to go on the internet to look into things in more detail."

Lancashire County Council is keen for all of its schools to meet the needs of their able, gifted and talented pupils and has issued guidelines to help teachers and governors.

Extending provision for these youngsters is a national priority as research has shown that they do not always achieve their true potential.

The new guidelines include self-evaluation and audit forms to allow heads to take stock and plan for the future with AGT pupils recognised in school paperwork and procedure in exactly the same way as SEN or English as an additional language pupils.

Notes for editors:

The school is a member of the "East Lancashire Excellence Cluster" which is a Government funded initiative aimed at helping schools in deprived areas to raise standards.

For further information please contact: Jane Bullock on 01772 533521




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