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The Independent Online
Q. We felt our six-year-old daughter was being held back at school and had her assessed by an educational psychologist. The report showed she had very high intelligence. The school may be prepared to take action and private education is a possibility.

I have consulted some of the organisations that help gifted children. She is happy for the most part but we are told she may become bored and frustrated and fail to fulfil her potential. How have other parents ensured their gifted child fulfilled potential? Peter O'Brien, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

A. Many parents face the quandary you are in but the ways they respond to it are as varied as the children involved, parents' inclinations and the resources, financial, intellectual and physical, their families have.

Many state schools are brilliant at working with extremely able children. They have special enrichment programmes, a teacher who co-ordinates them and is specially trained to deliver them and high awareness of the issue in general throughout the school. Some teachers delight in extending such able children.

Unfortunately, not all schools are like this. Some teachers, particularly in the early years of primary education, feel threatened by very bright children.

You need to find out exactly what your daughter's primary school canoffer her. Given the strained financial situation of many state schools, they may be able to offer very little.

If she is happy and settled there, you may choose to offer extra curricular activities, either through the activities put on by the local branch of tie National Association for Gifted Children, or through sport, art or drama. Don't forget the essential contribution you make, too. Schoolchildren up until the age of 16 spend 85 per cent of their waking hours out of school.

However, the fact that you have employed an educational psychologist, and that you feel your daughter was being held back, suggests you don't trust her school. Unless communication can be improved through honest discussion, you are probably going to remain dissatisfied.

One option would be to find another primary school that is sympathetic to the needs of highly able children and has the resources to help them.Or you could look for a private school. Be careful about agreeing to her going into a class of older children; she may lack the social maturity to be happy there.

Some very able children become difficult and disruptive. This may be because their needs are not being met or because they are disturbed by their parents' anxiety about them. Plenty of able children are well adjusted and are quite often very popular children.


If you have a query about education, write to "Crammer", Education Section, the 'Independent', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.