The aims of ETSN as organisation were formulated for the first time five years ago, in 2015. Later on, in 2019, the original concepts were included in the Articles, the rules of operation of the organisation, with certain addenda. We thought it would be good to draw up a short summary of the aims taken out of the original documents to think over their current status/degree of achievement today, 5 years after ETSN’s establishment in 2015.
Let us start by pointing out that, over the past 5 years, ETSN has become the biggest European NGO in the field of talent support, with more than 400 member institutions. It has also made the diversity of talent support organisations more visible by showing them in its Talent Map.
We know that ETSN membership has been an asset to the cause of talent support in several countries, although this is difficult to quantify. Of course, we have not reached the “ultimate” goal. turning into a “critical mass”, a force to be taken into account also by European decision-makers. Five years, however, is not a long time in this context, especially since we speak of a grassroot movement here in a field which is often subject to controversial judgements in Europe.
The grassroot quality applies more to the activity of the Talent Centres, the drivers of the Talent Point system which is more of a network built from top-down. Talent Centres are meant to make the institutions (the Talent Points) active in talent support day by day, understand why it is important for them to be present at European level jointly.
The member institutions of ETSN are highly diverse. This diversity – the coexistence of talent support forms of various types – was one of the aims. We wanted to show that talent support can be effective, in terms of institutional frameworks and also methodological solutions, in various ways. We work continuously to make this colourful network a community of mutually supportive entities in lively relationships with each other – although this is not very simple to realise given the linguistic differences.
As for moulding the Talent Centres into a community, Erasmus+ coordinated by the Irish Talent Centre and also the meetings in Budapest have already helped a lot, but there remains a lot to be done here.
The primary goal of networks is always to ensure the smooth flow of information within the Network and to exchange best practices (know hows) through that. The Network Council has realised this and pays special attention to presenting as many best practices as possible in its quarterly newsletter. This goal has partly been met, but the relevant activity of Talent Centres and Talent Points fluctuates: it would be good if more would present their work and best practices in the talent support field. Positive conduct is often a must to make the Network viable, since information sharing is the tool helping us to have ever new research ideas and joint projects.
We have obviously set out on a journey already: we can be proud of many things, but we still need to make progress in many areas, which will obviously be easier this way, collectively. Our direct goal is to access more and bigger EU funding to facilitate starting new joint projects, visiting each other, supporting talents and establishing new contacts.
I recommend everybody to re-read the aims summarised below.
Aims of the Network:
- increase the identification of highly abled young people in Europe;
- provide different types of support to highly abled young people (educational, financial, moral, etc.) beyond what is currently provided in this field;
- boost research activity in the field of high ability and related areas as well as to help transfer findings into practice;
- extend the current Network members’ framework of best practices (from policies to educational know-hows) to the field of high ability both in Europe and internationally;
- demonstrate that persons involved in the field of high ability have reached a “critical mass” at the European level that needs to be taken into account when discussing EU and national policies related to high ability throughout Europe (such as education, research, innovation, social affairs, public health, etcetera);
- help to further increase membership to the European Council for High Ability (ECHA) by increasing the number of people knowing and acknowledging ECHA’s activities in theory, research, and practice;
- create a community that focuses on the different needs of the highlyabled that is not exclusively academic in its outlook;
- develop a culture that promotes respect and celebrates diversity within this community.