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Who am I and who can I be?
Over 2,000
gifted and
learners from
London, Manchester and
the Black Country can now
meet to learn skills to help
them progress to the best
universities. Alf Brown
introduces the City GATES
Progression Academies
aunched in October 2008, the
city GaTeS Progression academies
help give gifted and talented students The sky’s the limit: Students
in years 10 and 12 across London, pictured during a recent
Greater Manchester and the Black Progression Academy in London
country the confidence to fulfil their
potential so that a good university to raise their aspirations and help them progress to the about the importance of setting goals and gaining ability to empathise with another learner’s point of view
education is within their sights. Many of the students best universities and degree courses. confidence. and use it to build a stronger case for their own beliefs.
come from disadvantaged backgrounds and often do Taking students out of the classroom, the Progression Progression academies are available to year 10 and Working together as a group, they learnt and applied
not set their sights high enough, despite having the academies help learners to develop key life skills and 12 students now, and will be available to years 11 and communication techniques that even many adults do
necessary ability. break down many of the perceived barriers to higher 13 from autumn 2009. not grasp until later life.
The Progression academies have been developed as education. They focus on building self-esteem and at many workshops, learners take part in quizzes
part of city GaTeS, the three-year, £15 million gifted knowledge, as well as communication skills.
First steps – needs analysis
and games to establish the type of personality traits and
and talented strand of the government’s city challenge designed to help students discover their “propensity Before taking part in the Progression academy, each gifts/talents they have. We then work with learners to
Programme. to learn”, the workshops are delivered in two-day student completes a personal needs analysis using an help them understand how they can use these individual
Launched in april 2008, the aim of the programme courses every term and ask: why should we learn, how online tool created with the national association for traits to get where they want to be.
is to drive greater achievement in three urban should we learn, and how should we communicate our able children in education. in year 12, students are tasked with putting together
regions: London, the Black country and Greater learning? The needs analysis Tool provides an individual a “pictureboard” illustrating where they aspire to be in
Manchester. Students explore a range of topics from “who am i?” assessment of the learner’s strengths and needs, to help 10 years’ time. This enables them to work with staff to
Part of the Young Gifted and Talented programme, in year 10 to “who can i be?” in year 13. These sessions them plan an individual learning journey from year 10 map out their individual paths to success.
city GaTeS aims to provide gifted and talented help learners to understand more about themselves, through to year 13. This may include ensuring they it is wonderful to see the transformation that takes
learners aged 14 to 19 with the tools and opportunities their beliefs, values and aspirations, as well as learning have high quality information and advice about post-16 place. i spoke to a despondent year 12 student at the
choices, or making the most of a mentor or coach. beginning of a recent workshop who is set to excel in
her school subjects, but did not know what she wanted
Union address: NAHT
Self-belief and motivation
to do, or what her grades could help her achieve.
The main aim is to help learners to see the reality of Simple techniques such as the GROW model, along
what they can achieve and how they can achieve it. with coaching and practical group work, has enabled
Turning the tables
every student attending a workshop learns how her to think more laterally about how studying fits into
to implement the GROW (goal, reality, options, what her learning journey and how she can apply herself.
next?) model, which looks at the process of identifying
a goal and then planning steps to achieve it.
The future
With key stage
confidence, knowledge of their attainment, We want students to come away able to apply the The first of three Progression academies for 2009 have
and an understanding of the next steps in their skills they have learnt and manage their own learning. seen almost 800 learners. city GaTeS is continuing to
3 SATs gone,
educational journey. By empowering and motivating students to achieve develop and grow modules and workshops for future
We believe in the tracking of pupil progress their goals, they can then take independent steps to events.
and the use of aspirational, but also reasonable, overcome any problems or barriers to achievement. Learners will continue to meet with their group three
Mick Brookes
expectations of attainment. i have met many students who did not feel they times a year for four years, building upon the skills and
We have proved beyond all reasonable doubt could achieve their dream of becoming a doctor or a expertise they have learnt.
is turning his union’s full
that the regime in key stage 2 and the way in which pilot because they had no concept of the route they
progress is reported: could take to get there.
How do I get my students involved?
force to the battle to scrap
• narrows the curriculum. Once students understand the steps they can take Significantly subsidised, each two-day workshop costs
• disenfranchises some pupils from the education and implement now, such as excelling in certain subject £75 per student, with schools able to use funds set aside
process at an early age (the very same pupils areas or taking up extra-curricular activities, they begin for personalised learning. around 1,500 gifted year
the tests at key stage 2
who will be the greatest challenge to retain in to see and believe in their future. 10 learners on the city GaTeS programme who are
education and training in 2014). eligible for free school meals will also receive a £400
• Misinforms (and in the case of testing in 2008
Putting theory into practice
yearly scholarship for up to four years, which can be
ManY OF you will have read, seen and heard our sometimes didn’t inform at all!). at the Progression academies, students are given used to pay for places. SecEd
attack on the targets, tables and tests culture. This has The recent release of data on the quality of the space to question how they relate to other people,
been a sustained campaign over three years and we marking from the Qualifications and curriculum and ways to establish rapport and communicate more • Alf Brown is City GATES project leader.
welcome the collaboration with the national union authority and Ofqual further strengthens the case effectively – vital skills when moving on to higher
of Teachers (nuT) in the next phase. that SaTs are not fit for purpose and a waste of education.
Further information
We are heartened that common sense prevailed public money. i recently witnessed a very interesting event at a Schools wishing to book places should contact Science
in the abolition of the tests in key stage 3 and The final indignity is that these flawed results are year 10 workshop, where students confidently led a and humanities education, the delivery partner, at
teacher assessment is certainly heeded in key stage released by the dcSF to provide league tables that professional debate about the point of homework. and on 01603 755 404.
1. This represents a major change in thinking from humiliate and demean the most challenged students, Taking the range of communication skills learnt For more on the Young Gifted and Talented
the department for children, Schools and Families their schools, and their communities on an annual throughout the day, students demonstrated an advanced programme, visit
(dcSF); however it is a step short of complete basis.
sanity. We have also shown that parents are opposed
There is no valid reason to retain the tests in key to the current regime. in a survey of almost 11,000
stage 2. indeed the weight of evidence provided parents, 85 per cent thought that the current system
City GATES is managed by CfBT Education Trust as part of the Young Gifted and Talented
by most of the education community (outside the of tests should be discontinued.
programme (YG&T), and is the gifted and talented strand of the wider Department for Children,
dcSF) suggests that significant damage is being We are working with the government-appointed
done to the education and life chances of children expert group to explore ways forward in designing a
Schools and Families’ (DCSF) City Challenge programme.
caught in this machine, not least because it only methodology for assessment that does not narrow the
The DCSF describes gifted learners as those who have the ability to excel academically in
gives credit to those who reach expected levels. This curriculum and values the progress made by every one or more subjects, such as English, maths or technology. Talented learners show equal
is particularly true for those children with learning child, because, as we know, every child matters.
potential in practical skills such as sport, leadership, artistic performance, or in an area of
difficulties, who struggle against the odds to make We would like to invite you to register your
vocational ability.
sense of the cognitive world. support for change in the way that year 6 pupils are
The nahT and nuT have joined together to assessed – every opinion counts! i look forward to
The YG&T programme is not only about achieving academic excellence; it is about widening
ensure that: hearing from you.
opportunities for young people across all socio-economic groups, giving the learner a sense of
• Year 7 teachers have information that will assist self-worth and motivation which helps to support the raising of standards.
the transfer of pupils from key stage 2 to 3. • If you wish to register your interest, visit the
Led by the DCSF and developed in partnership with schools and local authorities, City GATES
• Parents have accurate and descriptive information NAHT website at
is designed not only to support entry to higher education for any learner with potential, but
about the progress of their children. Mick Brookes is general secretary of the National
• children themselves arrive at your school with Association of Head Teachers.
ultimately to raise the aspirations of young people in England.
12 SecEd • April 2 2009
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