In the news: Deborah Eyre

July 5, 2002

Deborah Eyre, the newly appointed director of Warwick University's National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, does not have fond memories of her school days. "I did not really start to enjoy learning until I left school," she said.

It may be that Professor Eyre, who is one of the UK's leading experts on the education of talented children, suffered from being held back by the kind of inflexible system she hopes the new academy will help to loosen.

"Schools that deal best with gifted pupils value diversity and eccentricity," she said.

Professor Eyre's interest in the education of gifted children began when she started teaching in Oxfordshire in 1976, after gaining a Certificate in Education at Westminster College, Oxford. She said: "There were youngsters in the school who we felt could go further, but we were not quite sure what they needed or where they could go."

Fourteen years later, she had a masters degree under her belt and moved on to become a project director and advisory headteacher on able pupils for her local authority.

Westminster College provided the academic springboard for her career. In six years, she launched herself from senior lecturer up to deputy head of the institution, now the Westminster Institute of Education at Oxford Brookes University.

Professor Eyre said she hoped the academy, which has already recruited its first 100 students for this year's summer school, would "challenge many of our assumptions about giftedness and talent".

She said higher education institutions have a key role to play in opening up opportunities, through closer links with schools as part of the government's widening participation and social inclusion agendas.

"We hope we can have a real impact, but we do not have all the answers. We still have a lot to learn," she said.

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