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Mayuri making most of musical fun - case study

Mayuri enjoys extra-curricular activities

Plenty of interests outside school is how the parents of nine-year-old Mayuri Swaminathan are coping with their own bright spark.

Music, singing and martial arts give Mayuri something to focus on and counter some of the boredom she feels in class when set work that is too easy for her.

Her father, Janardhan, 39, advised parents to look for the “extras” a school could offer, and not just its exam results.

He said: “Keeping Mayuri occupied in music helps her to improve her social skills, as most of the group members are older than her – it is where she is more comfortable.

“My advice to a parent looking for a school is to not to go blindly after an Ofsted rating or other people’s advice, as most state schools will not be able to do much to support a gifted child due to financial and resourcing constraints.

“Ask yourself what activities your kid enjoys, what extra-curricular activities the school offers – in our case school offered rock band , school council and newspaper clubs and Mayuri enjoyed these activities.

“Choose a school which offers non-academic development as well. Most high IQ children will be ahead in studies but lack in social skills etc, due to the mismatch with the rest of their peer group.”

Mayuri, who lives in Solihull in the West Midlands with Janardhan, her mother Urmila, 36, and two-year-old sister Hiranmayi, attends a state junior school.

Janardhan said: “By Year 3 we realised that the school would not provide much support to Mayuri and as a parent we have to drive her needs.

“Mayuri has an accelerated reading concept in her school where she does quizzes in an online system.

“We checked the list of books and get them from our local library as the school library doesn’t have them, or she is not allowed to take them out as she is so young.

“We borrow the books from library and she reads them and does the quiz. Last year (Year 3) she read the highest number of words (almost two million) in the entire school although she was almost the youngest.  This year again she is a millionaire.

“She is bored in school. Even though she knows the answers, using mental maths or alternative quick ways to achieve results, she had to do it the school way.

“This affected her confidence and even though she wanted to learn new things, she was somewhat afraid that it would not go down well with the teacher and she did not advance on those topics.

“She would often ask while returning on Friday: “Why didn’t I get the weekly award? XYZ got it due to hard work in maths, but I am doing it every day.

“She was also told off by a teacher when she asked an advanced question in school as it was a next year question. This caused confusion on when to ask questions and what to ask – again, this affected her self-confidence.

“She does not have any friends in her school and often plays on her own. She is more comfortable with her seniors (like Year 6 students when she was in Year 3) but due to different lunch timings and physical capabilities, these friendship did not develop.

The psychologist who assessed Mayuri recommended that she should be accelerated through school, but that suggestion was rejected by teachers.

Janardhan said: “We had a meeting with her class teacher and G&T [gifted and talented] teacher. They said the school was doing maximum it could - Mayuri is identified as G&T and she will be sent to G&T workshops.

“There were only couple of workshops, such as how to write comic strips, and they took about half a day.

“So far, in our opinion, school hasn’t done enough but when we compared with other schools nearby - even those with better ratings - they have even less activities to offer. I was told that schools get extra grant if they have a kid with learning disabilities, but they do not get any extra grant if they have a gifted child.”

Mayuri plays three instruments – flute, violin and tenor horn – and takes part in after school newspaper club, rock band, school council and musical ensembles. She is also a member of the Girls’ Brigade and does karate once a week after school.

She does no organised activities at weekends though, preferring instead to read a wide range of books for her own enjoyment.