Educating Gifted and Talented Children – Turning Research Into Practice

Dr. Margaret Sutherland

A collaborative Approach to Building the Bridges Between Research and Practice

MS 2011

Dr. Margaret Sutherland, Scotland

Academic theories and research findings sometimes have a poor reputation with practitioners who can view academics and researchers as being too removed from practice and out of touch with reality. Conversely researchers and academics can hold stereotypical views of practitioners as generalists lacking in expert specialist knowledge or worse can regard schools and children as merely a source of data for academic publications.

Such stereotypes can be destructive as they can lead to mistrust and the valuable contribution that each partner can offer for the advancement of education can be lost. In recognition of these issues there is a growing awareness that practitioner knowledge has a significant role in research but it is acknowledged that mining practitioner knowledge from its social and cultural context can be problematic. Acknowledging each others’ value and committing to a desire to work together is the easy part of collaboration, agreeing on how to best move forward together is where both the challenges and possibilities lie. Real and meaningful collaboration can be easy to say but hard to do.

This presentation will explore the possibilities that exist where practitioners and researchers work together.  It will examine how early years practitioners might work collaboratively with researchers in a meaningful way to develop and better understand the needs of highly able young children.

This approach offers a realistic but an optimistic outlook as dialogue starts from the familiar – the individual’s frame of reference – and moves towards collective, communal meaning making.


Dr. Margaret Sutherland lectures in additional support for learning at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. She is the Director of the Scottish Network for Able Pupils and Deputy Director of the Centre for Research and Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning. She has 33 years teaching experience in schools and higher education.

She has written in the field of gifted education and is the author of a number of academic papers, chapters and books on the subject. Her book, Gifted and Talented in the Early Years has been translated into German. She is on the editorial board of the Korean Journal of Educational Policy. She speaks at conferences and has worked across the UK and with staff and students in Tanzania; Malawi; Korea; Virginia, USA; Slovenia; The Netherlands; Poland and Denmark.

She is an elected member of the general committee of the European Council for High Ability (ECHA) and a member of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC).