Key to our success as a learning environment is our aim to ensure that every girl realises her academic potential to the full. Our team of excellent teachers understand the importance of encouragement in building confidence, and the importance of confidence in achieving potential.
Building girls’ self confidence is vital. We want them to appreciate and value their individuality and be proud of their achievements. Recent work by Dweck (2006) on motivation and achievement, particularly in girls, suggests that labelling high achieving girls as gifted and talented does not lead to better, more successful learners. The research has shown that those identified and labelled as gifted are often poorly motivated and under-perform as they do not recognise the need to try very hard (because they see themselves as gifted) or avoid tasks that are challenging for fear of the risk of failing and not fulfilling their label. Equally, others, not identified, feel “deflated” and not motivated because they have failed to reach the prescribed criteria of being gifted.
Our philosophy at Bedford Girls’ School is therefore not to seek, identify and label students as Gifted and Talented. This is not to say we don’t provide challenging and engaging opportunities for our talented students: instead of focusing on identifying gifts we focus on creating gifts by providing opportunities inside and outside the classroom. Our Challenge and Engage Policy highlights how we achieve this.
We appreciate that even within an academically selective environment learning for some is not as easy as it is for others. Some girls have specific learning difficulties and need support. Again we do not label girls but instead offer them the help they need with our specialist support teachers who can offer one to one support on a weekly basis. We provide a specialist study skills programme for those who find revising for examinations difficult, additional literacy and numeracy classes for Junior School pupils and support lessons for girls in the Senior School. Our programme is co-ordinated by our Head of Learning Support, who identifies those with specific needs and who informs subject teaching staff of recommendations for best classroom practice for individuals.