Professor Valsa Koshy, Emerita Professor of Education at Brunel University received her MBE from the Queen, March 2019, in recognition of her distinguished contribution to education.
I was both proud and humbled by the honour I received from Her Majesty the Queen on 22nd March https://www.brunel.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/articles/Honour-at-Windsor-Castle-for-Professor-of-Education. I feel it is the right time to highlight the need for a process of radical re-thinking in the UK about supporting children to reach their full potential. I founded the first university-based research and development Talent Development centre (formerly known as The Brunel Able Children’s Education (BACE) Centre) https://www.brunel.ac.uk/education/why-study-education-at-brunel/talent-development-programmes in 1997, at Brunel University, focusing on children aged 4 to 16 years. Our work aims to empower teachers with strategies for effective curriculum provision so that they can provide enriching and enjoyable learning experiences to all pupils. A significant part of the Centre’s research focuses on the recognition and fulfilment of submerged talent in inner-city areas and of young children.
Two incidents were reported from schools to me in the past few weeks which are increasingly becoming the familiar type of correspondences I receive. First involved a group of boys rounding up a 6-year old girl and threaten to beat her up because ‘she was a slow writer’ (although the girl had a superb talent in close observation drawing and science), and second was an 8-year old boy who suffered persistent bullying because he was in the top group for Maths. Unsurprisingly, both children suffered mental health issues which improved when the teachers acted on the issue of acknowledging children‘s, talents and creating a climate which celebrates all talents. Both teachers lamented the demise of the support provided to them through government policy.
I have also been receiving e-mails from parents who are concerned about the lack of provision for children with high ability – general or domain-specific. Since government policy for Gifted and Talented education was abandoned in 2010 schools have not been receiving support to have structures in place to have a sound school policy for either identification of talent or provision. Ironically, I have been receiving several emails from other countries asking for support for introducing or extending their gifted education policies. The Gifted and Talented Policy which was launched in 1999 by the UK government had many merits and it helped to raise expectations of teachers and schools. I wish we had revised the existing policy in 2010 rather than abandon it. As it stands, in the UK, we are lagging behind in both research and in the development of strategies for educating our most talented children.
Professor Valsa Koshy
Koshy, V. and Pinheiro-Torres, C. (2013) ‘‘Are we being de-gifted, Miss?” Primary school gifted and talented co-ordinators’ responses to the Gifted and Talented Education Policy in England‘. British Educational Research Journal
Koshy, V.; Portman Smith, C. and Casey, R. (2018) ‘England Policy in Gifted Education: Current Problems and Promising Directions’. Gifted Child Today
See Potential Plus UK post: Congratulations to Professor Valsa Koshy