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Schools failing to challenge bright pupils - report

Many very high ability pupils in UK and Ireland schools are not challenged enough and don't have enough differentiated work to keep them challenged, according to a study of Mensa bright sparks.

Patricia McGrath, Mensa’s schools liaison officer for the Republic of Ireland, completed wide-ranging research into whether younger Mensa members were being challenged in school.

Her survey saw gifted and talented young people throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland give their views on their education. And Patricia concluded that many of them felt they were not being challenged sufficiently in school

Patricia said: “Thank you to the younger Mensans in England, Scotland and Wales who responded to my questionnaire regarding education in primary and secondary schools in the UK.  

“The results for England showed that almost a third of students in both primary and secondary schools were not challenged in school. In Scotland the students reported not being challenged adequately in primary school while most students felt challenged in secondary school. This was similar to Wales where most students said they were not challenged in primary school but were in secondary school, but not in every subject.”

The full papers for England, Scotland and Wales are now available to read.  

Patricia also completed research in her own country of Ireland, and with pupils in Northern Ireland - with broadly similar results.

She said: "The results were similar, with few students being challenged in schools and little differentiation for gifted students. The recent results from TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) for the Republic of Ireland showed that Irish students are performing above the average in maths and science but the higher achieving students are under performing compared to their counterparts in similar countries. 

"The Minister for Education has reported that she will provide further development for teachers with a focus on extending higher-achieving students." 

Read Patricia's full report in the June issue of Mensa Magazine.