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Maximizing the Potential of Gifted and High Ability Children: What Schools and Parents Can Do Dr Barry Meatyard December 12, 2011. Introduction.

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Maximizing the Potential of Gifted and High Ability Children: What Schools and Parents Can DoDr Barry MeatyardDecember 12, 2011

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011



  • This presentation is adapted from a lecture given by Dr Barry Meatyard organized by the Connecticut Association for the Gifted at Bedford Middle School, Westport CT on 12th December 2011.
  • Barry Meatyard has worked in education for nearly forty years in a career spanning teaching in high performing schools, teacher training and 5 years as a Director of England’s National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth.
  • He currently works as an independent international consultant – with recent projects in UK, Malaysia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Germany and Holland.
  • All information and materials in this presentation are the intellectual property of Barry Meatyard unless otherwise referenced. Non-commercial use of the materials for educational purposes is acceptable.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011



To provide an overview of G+T education in England

2. To share international approaches to

understanding giftedness

To consider how the definition of

giftedness impacts on provision

To provide examples of creative

thinking exercises and activities.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


G&T Education in England – a recent history

In 1998 a national governmental approach to G&T education was formalised and a ‘National Programme’ was established.

This led in 2002 to the formation of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY) at the University of Warwick, the role of which was to act as a strategic partner with Government to support the National Programme.

A change in policy in 2007 led to the dismantling of NAGTY, although some components of its work were transferred to other agencies, and much of its legacy is reflected in current programmes for both teachers and students.

A ‘National Programme’ as such no longer exists and the responsibility for provision for ‘more able’ students rests with individual schools. This provision is inspected against national guidelines by The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


G&T Education in England – the current landscape

Responsibility for provision lies primarily in schools, although schools can, and do, procure provision from independent agencies, and from the university sector (outreach and summer programmes).

A number of advocacy and support (both commercial and charitable) groups exist, including London Gifted and Talented (, The National Association for Gifted Children (, and The National Association for Able Children in Education ( . More recently a network of interested individuals and organisations has been established as ‘G&T Voice’ (

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


NAGTY 2002-07 – Strategic Plan

  • To work in partnership with the English Government to develop Gifted and Talented (G&T) education within national policy.
  • To identify and track the G&T population that makes up the national top 5%.
  • To secure high quality core education for all G&T young people.
  • To secure access to high quality opportunities within and beyond school for all G&T young people in the national top 5%.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


Increased access to

adult expertise

Increased sophistication

of provision




‘English Model’

(Eyre, 2008)

local or regional


local or regional enrichment activity

cross-school and extra-curricular provision

classroom provision

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011

the english model of gifted education 1
The English Model of Gifted Education - 1

The NAGTY ‘pyramid’ has come to represent the

‘English Model’ of gifted education and has been

conceptualised and defined as a strategic framework

by Prof. Deborah Eyre (2008). However, in practice

many individual schools that have long traditions of

preparing their students for high tariff universities

such as Oxford and Cambridge have been operating

this system for many years.

The essential feature of the Eyre model is that it is

systemic, and inclusive, encompassing all schools

irrespective of socio-economic context.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011

the english model of gifted education 2
The English Model of Gifted Education - 2

The 4 principles that underpin this model are:

Enables extension and support for those students already identified as ‘gifted’;

It provides opportunities in the classroom for students to respond to stimuli in a way which indicates their potential for high achievement, i.e. to promote the identification of gifted individuals;

A focus on the needs of more able students is a powerful lever for whole school improvement, and

Schools are inspected on the provision they make for ALL students.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011

the english model of gifted education 3
The English Model of Gifted Education - 3

Implications of this approach are:

All teachers are teachers of the gifted;

2. All teachers need to be able to provide for the gifted;

3. All teachers need to be able to recognize a response by students to provision that is indicative of the potential for further high achievement, and

4. Teachers / schools need to recognize the needs of gifted students and to be able to broker additional provision and support.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011

the english model of gifted education 4
The English Model of Gifted Education - 4
  • Therefore:
  • Teacher training programmes need to reflect these implications;
  • On-going professional development should be available and accessible to all teachers.
  • The second of these is becoming internationally recognized in countries as diverse as Malaysia, Holland and Saudi Arabia.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


What do we mean by ‘gifted’?

Important question and defines different approaches to provision.

However there is no international ‘one size fits all’ definition.

Students whose performance is significantly above that of the average of their peer group and who have the potential for high achievement in adult life;

Students who show the early signs of behaviours that are considered ‘expert’ in adults. The Sternberg model – the expertise journey. Howard Gardner ‘Multiple Intelligences’;

The Eyre equation: Potential + Opportunity (+ Support +Motivation ) = High Achievement (Eyre, 2008);

Renzulli (Renzulli, 1986) – ‘Three Ring’ components.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


‘The English Model’ (Eyre, 2008)

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011

three ring concept renzulli 1986


for High





Three Ring Concept (Renzulli, 1986)
  • Problem solve regarding
    • Context
    • Role
    • Audience


Plan creatively



Metacognitive skills

Alternative Thinking/Learning strategies

Strategies for coping

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


Giftedness as an expertise journey (Sternberg)

What do adult experts do?

Think of an ‘expert’ in your subject area

What characterizes their ‘expertness’?

E.g. Nobel Prize winners :

Saul Perlmutter; Fred Sanger; Kary Mullis; John Steinbeck; Al Gore.


Aldo Leopold; Rachel Carson; Maya Angelou; Steve Jobs.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


What characterizes adult expertise?

In our work with teachers from a wide range of countries and cultures we have asked this question. The answers are remarkably uniform and the common responses are shown in the next slide:

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


The next question is then:

What about Students?

Think of the brightest / most ‘gifted’ students you have ever taught or known.

Why do you think they were the brightest / most ‘gifted’ ?

Would you add / subtract anything from this list?

Do our assessment instruments recognize and reward these characteristics?

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


The responses are remarkably uniform and the great majority (of 2500 teachers) agree that the adult descriptors are also applicable to their ‘best’ students.

Interestingly only two have responded ‘because they got good marks in tests’

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


It therefore follows that our curricula and classroom practice (plus the way that extra-curricular programmes are structured) should provide opportunities for the rehearsal of ‘expert behaviours’.

This requires a clearer focus on opportunities for ‘HOT’ (Higher Order Thinking). A simple way of envisaging this is to refer to ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’ (see following slides)

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


The following three slides give a brief over-view of differing approaches to thinking skills relevant to the G&T agenda. However teachers will also be aware of de Bono’s ‘Thinking Hats’, Gardener’s ‘Multiple Intelligences’s , Renzulli’s ‘Learning Lab’ which are in use in many schools; and additional program opportunities such as ‘Future Problem Solving’ and ‘Odyssey of the Mind’. These are beyond the scope of this presentation.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011

‘HOTs and LOTs’

Higher Order Thinking Skills


Lower Order Thinking Skills

Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom et al 1956)







In unfamiliar situations these are HOTS

In familiar situations these are LOTS

It is wrong to assume that ‘Bloom’ is a hierarchy – i.e. that it is necessary to top up the ‘LOTS’ before proceeding to the ‘HOTS’. Knowledge and comprehension can be created and stimulated by starting with observation and thinking exercises.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


‘Revised Bloom’

Anderson, L., & Krathwohl, D. E. (2001).

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


Why does all this matter?

The World’s Top Universities are more interested in how Students Think than what they Know.

At interview at institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge candidates will be given scenarios and problems to consider that may be unfamiliar to them.

Sufficient factual knowledge is assumed since all candidates will have top grades in school leaving exams.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


Implications for the Everyday Classroom and Parent / Child Conversations

How can we encourage ‘HOT’ skills? The following 7 ideas illustrate some strategies that have been devised by teachers for teachers and are in use in many schools in the UK, Europe and beyond. They are mainly short thinking exercises that can be incorporated into normal lesson time.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


For Parent-Child conversations they may help to frame dialogues that stimulate and progress learning.

(It may be worth referring to the work of Vygotsky(1978 – or ‘Google’) and the value of conversation)

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


G&T Provision - 1: Questioning Skills

Why do we ask questions?

To engage/control pupils;

To check prior learning/recall;

To lead into new learning;

To focus thinking / check understanding;

To extend thinking;

To lead pupils though a reasoned sequence;

To promote problem solving or reflection.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


1. What percentage of teachers’ questions is concerned

with recalling facts?

2. What percentage of teachers’ questions is concerned

with managing the class?

3. What percentage of questions do you think demand

higher cognitive demands of pupils? (Bloom’s

categories 3/4 – 6)

4. Who do you think asks the greatest proportion of

higher order questions – primary or secondary


5. How many questions does the ‘average’ teacher ask

in their working lifetime (40 years)?

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011



+ T W O

= F O U R

7 3 4

+ 7 3 4

1 4 6 8

Specimen solution:

How does questioning work?

A simple math example

Low threshold – high ceiling – high impact task

How many solutions can you find?

How do you know you have all the solutions?

Make up one that is more difficult

Why is it more difficult?

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


G&T Provision - 2: 6 Degrees of SeparationA creative thinking gameYou will be shown 2 picturesLink the two pictures together by six sentencesThe end of one sentence must form the start of the nextTime for the task is 2 minutes

caterpillar candle in 6 steps

In 6 steps…


A response from a 15 year old pupil

A caterpillar is the larva of a butterfly

Butterflies are insects which are classified as animals

Animals respire in order to provide themselves with energy

Energy can exist in many forms

One form of energy is thermal energy

Thermal energy and light energy are produced when a candle burns


DNA Ballot box


Beethoven Electric guitar

Mountain Coral reef

Isosceles triangle Cylinder

Cat Bicycle

Romeo Juliet

Freedom Fireworks

Christianity Islam

In 6 steps

summary 6 degrees of separation

Can be used in the everyday classroom

  • Stimulates thinking, creativity, analytical
  • and evaluation skills, and discussion
  • Low threshold – high ceiling tasks, but:
  • Level of difficulty can be adjusted
  • Can be converted into a research task
  • Low maintenance for teachers
  • Remember: there is no ‘right’ answer!
  • But what constitutes a ‘good’ answer? Engaging students in deciding this can develop their analytical and evaluation skills.
  • And it’s fun!!

Summary: 6 Degrees of Separation


G&T Provision - 3: ‘Big’ or ‘Rich’ Questions


How Color Changing Pens (e.g. Crayola ‘Switchables’™) work

Where religion came from

How mountains are formed

How many matches you need to play in a tennis tournament

The plot of a Shakespearean play in a modern context

Why the sea is blue and not green

The origin of language

Why we haven’t found a cure for the common cold.

N.b. these cannot be answered in a single step. There may also be

more than one solution or answer which can be further explored ,

discussed and evaluated.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


G&T Provision - 4: ‘Jeopardy’

If this is the answer what could the question(s) be?

New York, carbon dioxide, Lincoln, inflation, tea,

water, cotton, limestone etc.

Can we group the answers?

What patterns might be discerned?

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


G&T Provision - 5: Tell the Story

Of a graph

Of a picture

Of a year in the life of a barn swallow

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


G&T Provision - 6: Draw a Graph

To represent:

How you eat a Hershey Bar

The pressure in a balloon as it deflates

Your journey to school

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


G&T Provision - 8: Thought Experiments

What if:

The density of water was greater / lesser?

We used decimal time?

Pigs could fly?

Gravity on earth was greater / lesser?

We didn’t have verbs / nouns?

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


These ideas are developed as ‘low threshold – high ceiling – high impact’ tasks. This means that most students can engage with them at a basic level, but they allow G&T students a blank canvas on which to express their creativity and wider knowledge.

Feedback suggests that teachers use them to extend the thinking of ALL students (not just G&T) and this enables them to identify potential.

Advice is given to teachers on professional development programs as to how best to incorporate these activities.

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


International Links

International Gateway for Gifted Youth (IGGY)

Junior Commission, Forums, ‘The Why Files’, Math

Problems, Summer Schools.

London international Youth Science Forum

Summer Schools, Forums

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011



Fitted Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Nine squares with side lengths 1,4,7,8,9,10,14,15 and 18 cm can befitted together with no gaps and no overlaps, to form a rectangle.

What are the dimensions of the rectangle?

Once you've had a chance to think about it, click below to

see howthree different pupils began working on the task. 

  • This is how Anna started: hyperlink
  • Here is what Brendan tried: hyperlink
  •  Here is Chandra's initial approach to the problem: hyperlink

 Can you take each of these starting ideas and develop them into a solution?

 To discuss your methods for answering these questions, visit the blog

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011


Concluding Thoughts – what I have learned

Teachers from a wide range of educational cultures have similar views of giftedness

A more inclusive approach aids recognition of potential

Sustainable G+T education can only be achieved by embedding it as a right within schools

Teachers need access to high quality professional development opportunities

Learning should be fun! For Students, Teachers and Parents

Barry Meatyard, BM Consultancy 2011