“My son is really struggling. All people see is a boy they call ‘clever’. But being good at Maths and Music doesn’t help him with sports or writing – or making friends with the ones who pick on him exactly because he’s been labelled ‘clever’. Nobody seems to take it seriously, but we really need help.”
Potential Plus UK is very familiar with these kinds of stories. Daily.
In a society where much is being done to try to eradicate prejudice and promote understanding, children with High Learning Potential (HLP), can seem left outside this protection zone. Sometimes they are teased by peers – even by adults – although frequently the disadvantage they face is subtler. They may be asked to spend chunks of every (school) lesson being ‘Teaching Assistant’, for example, or as a smart domestic helper in a Home Education setting. In similar ways they are held back; the possibility of reaching their high potential can disappear because they are not being stretched – or in fact even challenged! The idea that they will somehow just sort themselves out is misguided and can lead to them underachieving as well as related frustration, depression and psychological problems as they grow older.
This is why we need to go ‘Above and Beyond’ – both with the awards and also our actions.
There are multiple rays of hope shining in many homes, schools and clubs across the land! There are teachers, home educators, parents and children themselves who ‘get it’ and go out of their way to ensure HLP youngsters are kept mentally stimulated and emotionally stable. What can we each do in our own sphere of influence? Can we promote awareness, highlight stigma or provide any extra resources?
The Above and Beyond Awards
Julie Taplin, Chief Executive of Potential Plus UK, explained: “These inaugural awards celebrate the parents, teachers, support staff and other professionals in the UK who go ‘above and beyond’ to help exceptional young people achieve their high learning potential, regardless of age or background. They also celebrate the achievements of children and young people in the UK, ‘above and beyond’ expectation for their age, who help in the wider community or are overcoming challenges in order to excel.”
The award categories and criteria can be seen at https://potentialplusuk.org/index.php/above-and-beyond-awards/
Can you think of anyone from a parent, teacher or classroom assistant through to a therapist or inspirational child who:
“Recognised a need in the support of children and young people with high learning potential”?
- Has someone gone ‘above and beyond’ by providing superbly individual ‘home education’, either full time or on top of the school day?
- Is anyone always ready to have a deeper philosophical, factual or psychological discussion than is ‘normal’ for a particular age group, calm an HLP mind or put the world into a meaningful perspective? A ‘buddy’, maybe, to help protect against bullying?
“Developed strategies or resources to help support children and young people within education and the community”?
- Does a certain Home Educator or Teacher always have ‘extension activities’ up their sleeve? Do they maximise the child’s learning instead of simply repetition of work at the same level or making them peer group helper? Do they communicate openly with you?
“Shared their knowledge and experience with others [… or continued] to develop and plan for the future.”
- Has a parent sent round tips on social media or a chat app, lent out books or run information and discussion sessions for home educators or at school?
- Has a student set up a ‘club’ for HLP children where they can meet up, chat and perhaps play chess or sports or computing or…?
If you know someone deserving of recognition or a young HLP child or teenager who has achieved their goal despite health issues or other difficulties…why not nominate them?
If you can’t think of anyone to nominate, how about supporting the Above and Beyond Awards in other ways? Support them through your actions – going ‘above and beyond’ in your everyday dealings with HLP youngsters as you advocate for their needs. Support them by helping to stamp out stigma. Support them by noticing when children with high learning potential are being ignored, teased or appear to be struggling in other areas. Support them by stepping in to help children with encouragement, empathy or advanced learning challenges.
Let’s each of us strive to go ‘above and beyond’ in our daily lives.