The Latymer Link - page 3

ne evening, just before the end of last term, I met the founder of a local business. His company is now a
large employer in Enfield, comprising a team which is truly unique in its area of expertise. This seemed to me
very much like The Latymer School; a group of staff and students unique in the area - unique because of the
highly-selective nature of the student body.
The government’s education department has had various names over the years. It is currently the Department
for Education (DfE). When it was the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), there was an
emphasis on the phrase “Gifted and Talented” (G&T). Schools were required to provide information on how
many students were in this category. The national guideline was 10%. It didn’t take long to complete our
return; every student was deemed to be G&T. There are various definitions of G&T. Some say a “Talent” is a
skill in a performance or practical area of the curriculum, whereas a “Gift” is in other areas of the curriculum.
I don’t find these definitions very helpful - it’s the learning behaviours of Latymer students that make them
G&T: (i) instead of just answering a question, they question the answers; (ii) instead of just being good at
memorising, they are good at synthesising, bringing together different topics within a curriculum area or
across areas.
When Ofsted call these days, they have already looked at a wealth of attainment data about students’
performance. They have become more interested in the progress of students, comparing “value added” by
one school, to that of another. They look at students’ written work to see progress over time, and observe
lessons to check that students make progress, in something, during every 40 minute session. Latymer
students do indeed make very good progress, and since they are G&T, they learn quickly. They ask searching
questions, challenge accepted theories, look for connections, have imagination.
The task of the school is to promote these high order learning behaviours, to ensure that students develop
their natural intelligence to best effect, to gain outstanding results in public examinations, to become lifelong
learners and to develop well as people. They will then be able to attempt answers to very challenging
questions that they haven’t come across before, as did two members of my class during their university
interviews. “What happens to the total kinetic energy of a car, the driver, one passenger and a ball when the
passenger throws the ball?” Or, “If a cube has a resistor on each of its edges, how would you calculate the
resistance to a current passing between opposite corners?”
Difficult questions are solved by original thinkers. We are lucky to have so many of them at The Latymer
School. However governments and schools seek to categorise them, these provocative thinkers are exactly
the sort of people needed by expanding local companies, or in any endeavour. It is through carefully nurtured
independence of thought, through a fully realised individuality, that people, schools and enterprises, through
working together, achieve the quality of being unique.
Mark Garbett
From the Head
Gifted and
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