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Gifted and Talented @ Science & MidYIS

I always think this is quite a complex part of teaching Science and nobody gets it right all the time. It also can be quite daunting for some teachers who start out from an average understanding of their own subject at a classroom level, despite a 1st from Cambridge!

They suddenly find themselves pushed forwards to some very bright and focussed young minds of which all 30 have laser like vision on every little facet of your delivery and comments. The questions that flow from some children’s minds are like a torrent of incoherency but often have hidden flashes of genius. I also think we often find that now in such a connected world of Youtube and the Internet the questions teachers are faced with are far more complex and varied that anything I ever gave to my teachers.

Hamster Motivation

A while back now I was presenting a Teaching and Learning conference as part of Nottinghamshire LEA with Matt Spoors (LEA Advisor for Science) and also Phil Beadle (English Expert teacher). I was there for ICT in Science and Virtual Learning which is another story. Phil did a really good hands on session and he told me a story about “hamster motivation”.

The idea was to think about pupils like a little Hamster who are across the other side of the room. You really want that hamster to come over and talk to you and take part in your little spinning wheel game. However, the hamster does not want to come. You have three key strategies you can do…

Pulla….. Try and draw him in with a bribe, which is ok, but not always a good long term solution (i.e. you run out of food)

Kicka?…. Walk around and kick him to the other side of the room as hard as you can. (most hamsters don’t like this)

Interest?…. Just get the little dude to come over out of pure choice and curiosity! Make whatever you are doing so interesting that little hamster just comes over anyway!

I think that is the key really to motivating classes in general and also the secret behind G&T pupils.

Key Messages

I think there are several key messages I adhere to for G&T

  • All pupils can be taught as G&T (within reason)
  • Give your pupils time and space to develop. There is no one pathway to enlightenment.
  • G&T often surprise you with novel solutions to classroom activities, embrace that and enjoy it. Potentially you have manged to inspire that in part at least
  • Don’t try and pretend you know it all, clearly you don’t and a really good GCSE or A-level student will always out think you. Embrace the ideas!
  • Listen to all stakeholders and in particular parents. Even if their child is not G&T they are still special.
  • This graphic really explains it all for a G&T student. As beyond that hard bullet proof amazing exterior is a little ego as fragile as a quails egg underfoot.

Pupil Personality Profiles (Mensa)

This is a list of key identifiers for pupils who may be G&T as defined by Mensa. It can scare some people who feel inadequate next to them. They may find it hard to fit in with peers and may seek older company. Also some teachers end up telling them off in class as their abilities clash with teachers own didactic way. Also some parents may think their child has these abilities but for some reason they never test well or when it really comes down to it we can see they are just not G&T. This makes the whole situation rather tricky. Also clearly some pupils will only exhibit in 1 or 2 subjects, whilst others are just “gifted” across the board.

  • An unusual memory
  • Passing intellectual milestones early
  • Reading early
  • Unusual hobbies or interests or an in-depth knowledge of certain subjects
  • Intolerance of other children
  • An awareness of world events
  • Set themselves impossibly high standards
  • May be a high achiever
  • Prefers to spend time with adults or in solitary pursuits
  • Loves to talk
  • Asks questions all the time
  • Learns easily
  • Developed sense of humour
  • Musical
  • Likes to be in control
  • Extrovert or introvert
  • Makes up additional rules for games


What is MidYIS testing?

MidYIS stands for Middle Years Information System and is currently operating in over 3000 secondary schools. MidYIS is an hour test taken in the first term at school. The test is designed to measure, as far as possible, ability and aptitude for learning rather than achievement. MidYIS is not an IQ Test as it is designed to provide a measure of ‘typical’ performance. It is very useful for seeing who is gifted and in what way!

What is involved in the test?

  1. Vocabulary test – 10 min
  2. Maths test – 24 min
  3. Non-verbal reasoning – Several 5-minute sections of exercises looking at cross-sections, block counting and pictures.
  4. Skills test contains three sections listed below: Proof-reading – approximately 4-5 x 1-minute exercises looking at spelling, punctuation and grammar.
  5. PSA – Perceptual Speed & Accuracy – this includes several 30-second bursts at comparing typed text with a ‘hand-written’ version. It goes on to ask the students to speedily compare strings of letters, numbers and symbols. The proof-reading and PSA are combined to give the “Skills” score.

The Overall MidYIS is formed from the Vocabulary and Maths scores only.

What do the components relate to?

The Vocabulary component of the test is a useful guide for most subjects but especially for English, Social Subjects and some Modern Languages.

The Maths score is linked to most subjects but is particularly important when predicting Maths, Statistics, ICT, Design Technology and Economics.

The Maths section has been designed with the emphasis on speed and fluency, rather than knowledge of Maths.

The Non-verbal score is important when predicting Maths, Science, Design Technology, Geography, Art and Drama. It provides a measure of the pupil’s ability in visualizing 3-D shapes, spatial aptitude, pattern recognition and logical thinking.

Scores are standardised to an average of 100 with a standard deviation of 15. Scores above 130 are exceptional as they are two SD out from mean so 99.7% of all pupils fit into 2SD and scores below 70 indicate a special learning need

Bands: Each of the four MidYIS Bands (A to D) includes 25% of the nationally representative

sample. Band A represents the top 25% and Band D the lowest.

 So what are you doing in the classroom?

Have you already identified your G&T potential students in your classes and on your seating plan?

Are they G&T due to…

  • Being an academic scholar (pre-selected)
  • Good at Maths
  • Good at N-V or Spatial Awareness
  • Good at English
  • Is it real skill OR very hard work

What happens each lesson for these pupils?

Do you “expect” them to do more each lesson?

What is special for them?

What is their stretch and challenge?

Do they go to a STEM Club or take part in the enrichment activities

Do you give them a chance to show leadership in practical lessons (i.e. be the “teacher” and assist you)

Did some of the testing miss pupils who did not do well on the tests, but are showing these traits, should we add them to the list too?

  • Ability with puzzles
  • High energy level
  • Perfectionism
  • Perseverance in interests
  • Questions authority
  • Avid reader
  • Prefers older companions.


Gifted and Talented by Daniel Powell

Characteristics of Gifted and Talented Children Summary skills

Characteristics of Gifted and Talented Children An Explanation

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