Talent Support through Tales and Drama

Agnes Streitmann PhD 

Apor Vilmos Catholic College, Vác, Hungary

An article on the International Tale Project Week at Apor Vilmos Catholic College, Vác, Hungary, which was held in 2019 April

The Winchester Tale Project focusing on folk-tale traditions of different cultures is a cooperation between Apor Vilmos Catholic College (Vác, Hungary) and the University of Winchester (UK) launched in 2015. Since the beginnings it has been one of the most popular talent support projects with Hungarian students. At Apor Vilmos Catholic College (AVCC), which is  both a National and a European Talent Point, the project is based on two talent support courses: The Storytelling Course comprises students’ research work shared with the English students on a project website (Weebly), http://folkandfairytaleproject.weebly.com), as well as learning about and applying different storytelling techniques to perform tales. The Art Course includes art and craft activities aiming at preparing puppets, props, scenery illustrations to be used in performances. Besides in-college work both English and Hungarian students do pedagogical work at English and Hungarian primary schools, and participate in project-weeks in Winchester and in Vác: They lead workshops at the partner institution, do school work, and attend cultural events. 

In 2019 the project week at AVCC was organized as an International Week welcoming 14 international students and 5 lecturers from the UK, Belgium, Spain and Switzerland. The International Tale Project Week entitled Talent Support through Tales and Drama was supported by the National Talent Programme. The most popular activities of the Week were two student workshops: Belgian students gave Kamishibai (paper theatre) and shadow play performances based on Hungarian folk tales, which were followed by  a story-innovation groupwork. The English and Hungarian students led a workshop based on a local legend from the Southampton region applying exciting storytelling and drama technics.

The presentation of the English colleagues from the University of Winchester entitled Teaching Children’s Literature in English Primary Schools and the enjoyable workshop Body &Voice led by a Belgian drama teacher from Thomas More University also made a hit. The Spanish colleague from the Catholic University of Valencia gave a challenging presentation on the topic Gender Stereotypes in Folk Tales, which was followed by a passionate discussion in groups. 

The presentations of the two Hungarian guest lecturers were inspiring as well. Csilla Fuszek – the Director of the European Talent Centre-Budapest, and the Secretary of the ETSN Network Council – talked about national and international experiences within the framework of the ETSN. The presentation of Eszter Szoboszlay from Kecskemét Film Studio How to Make an Animated Film also contained a lot of interesting information for the audience. The animated cartoon series Gipsy Folktales were a unique experience both for the Hungarian and the international students. 

The international students gained insight into the pedagogical work of two Hungarian primary schools, attended the Budapest History Museum, and visited cultural sights in Vác and in Budapest. 

The beauty of Vác, the closeness of Budapest and last but not least the interesting, inspiring programmes proved to be greatly attractive for the international participants expressing their willingness to gladly return to other international talent support programmes at AVCC. 

At AVCC we are already planning the talent support programmes of the Tale Project for the next academic year. Hopefully they will also be successful, attracting quite a few international students and colleagues.

Link to the talent support Tale Project and the previous International Weeks at AVCC: 


Creating equal opportunities in education by means of academic language

Lineke van Tricht

Bureau Talent, Middelstegracht 87f, 2312 TT, Leiden, the Netherlands,


Pupils from a less advantaged background, such as a low socioeconomic status or a native language other than Dutch, do not always fulfill their potential in terms of academic success. The project ‘Creating equal opportunities at school: Empowering pupils from less-advantaged backgrounds through teaching academic language’, financed by Erasmus+, contributes to bridging the gap between these pupils’ current academic success and their cognitive talent by means of teaching Dutch academic language.

Inequality in education is a big problem in every prosperous country. The Netherlands and Belgium even belong to the 10 countries in the world where socioeconomic status has the biggest impact on school success

1 . Socioeconomic status is the position people have in society. Examples of indicators that are used to measure socioeconomic status for children are: the language spoken at home and the income, professional status and educational level of their parents

2 . Inequality in opportunities means that background and socioeconomic status, instead of cognitive or academic abilities, determines academic success

3 . Language seems to play an important role in this. It is essential that schools, pupils and parents become aware of this problem. Also, they should know where to find and how to make use of the learning materials that are available to teach pupils ‘school language’, also called academic language.

The project ‘Creating equal opportunities at school: Empowering pupils from less-advantaged backgrounds through teaching academic language’, financed by Erasmus+, offers a solution.

The purpose of this project is to improve the academic language skills of cognitively talented pupils from less advantaged backgrounds. It aims to increase the chance that these pupils’ academic success is in line with their potential because language is no longer a barrier, leading to a growth in their motivation and self-confidence.

Different experts and schools from the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK are working together in this project, benefiting from each other’s experience and expertise. A similar project, which served as an example for this current project, has been carried out in the UK. It was called the REAL-project, and the results were very positive.

The first step in the Erasmus+ project is to select cognitively talented pupils from a less-advantaged background through a culture fair test. The 10% to 20% of best scoring pupils per school will start working with the Dutch academic words in September 2019. The project ends in June 2021, after which it will be evaluated.

The selected pupils will use on online programme to help them learn academic Dutch. Teachers and experts have worked together to compile a list of academic words, based on previously developed lists. The online programme allows pupils to actively study and use the words. The aim is that they will be able to recognize and use academic language in formal school settings as well as in their everyday lives so that a lack of language skills no longer forms a barrier when it comes to academic success.

The project is innovative because this is a target group which is underrepresented in many Gifted-and-Talented programmes. The way pupils are selected and the development of an academic word list in Dutch is also new. From a broad perspective, the end goal should be that the influence of socioeconomic status on talent development, school results and school success will diminish. This fundamental change could ultimately lead to a more diverse and equal society.

Children Access to Play at School

Agata Hofman, Ph.D.

Director of Education KS Gedania 1922

Gdańsk as the first city in the world aims at providing 1 hour free play everyday to each child from public school in early education

With the new school year in Gdansk, a pilot educational program begins, the aim of which is to promote freely play, everyday with what the young people will find in a “container”.

The story is about how your “junk” will serve the school. 

What is GratoSfera?

GratoSfera assumes placing in the green area of 9 Gdańsk schools of maritime container (warehouse) with unobvious equipment, which will allow participants to spread the wings of imagination. This creative space will contain so-called “loose parts”, i.e. elements such as plastic pipes, nets, boxes, materials, tires, barrels, wooden spools, used electronic equipment, cables, nets, sponges, etc. It will be a perfect place for the participants to develop their imagination.

The role of the adult guardian will be kept to a minimum and will be limited to ensuring the safety and organization of the space for children.

During free play, young people will be able to develop their social skills, increase the level of physical activity and, above all, stimulate their creativity by using what they have at hand. This means doing exactly what their parents and grandparents did before the Internet age.

Who invented it?

GratoSfera is part of a wider CAPS (Children Access to Play in School) grant project and was developed in close cooperation with the British organisation OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) – a pioneer in the field of free play and in cooperation with partners from 5 EU countries under the Erasmus+ programme. In Gdańsk, the coordinator is the Social Development Department of the Municipal Office, the Department of Strategy and Social Programmes, in cooperation with the Sports Club Gedania 1922, here Kamil Maciaszek as the play-leader. Aleksandra Kulik from the Department of Social Development is a large part of city success and prof Tomasz Frołowicz, a part of our Gdańsk team to design researcher proving the necessity to increase outdoor play.

Does it work?

One of the foundations of maintaining the mental balance of children up to 10 years of age is about 1 hour of free play per day. Just as sleep and food are essential for a child’s health, free play is essential for children to maintain their mental health.

During the designated time of the day, which lasts about an hour, children, under supervision of adults, have fun using “Loose Parts” and their own, unlimited imagination.

Undoubtedly, this is confirmed by long-term research conducted by the OPAL organization. It has been shown that children with access to free play have seen a significant increase in interpersonal competences (by 80%), a significant increase in resistance to stress, self-confidence and the ability to adapt to changing conditions, resilience and plasticity of the mind. Teachers working in institutions providing children with free play reported extended active teaching time (by up to 20 minutes/ 45 minutes lesson), as well as a significant decrease in negative behaviours, including acts of aggression and violence. This also reduced the amount of time spent on solving conflicts among children.

(Source: Howard J, Miles GE, Rees-Davies L, Bertenshaw EJ. Play in Middle Childhood: Everyday Play Behaviour and Associated Emotions. Child Soc. 2017;31(5):378-389. doi:10.1111/chso.12208)))

Since we have seen a steady increase in depression and suicide rates among children and adolescents over the last 10 years, the issue of maintaining the mental health of children is fundamental to us.

(sources: https://www.who.int/mental_health/suicide-prevention/globally_in_young_people_2016.JPG?ua=1



We would like to invite here all parents, school staff memebers, NGOs or any other people to join us and spread the idea of free play for kids all over Europe.

Any action on the part of adults, teachers, parents, NGOs and governments to promote everyday free play for kids under the age of 10. will lead to a better world where children will be able to develop the necessary skills like: creativity, resilience, empathy, cooperation. We would like to underline the necessity of  unrestricted play crucial for children to maintain their mental balance.

Watch the movie:


agata.hofman@lanlab.pl Agata Hofman

kml.maciaszek@gmail.com Kamil Maciaszek, play-leader 

1st Thematic ECHA Conference: Creativity Research and Innovation in Gifted Education: Social, Individual, and Educational Perspective


The ECHA (European Council for High Ability), and the Faculty of Education in Osijek, Croatia, are organising the 1st Thematic ECHA Conference to be held in the beautiful historic city of Dubrovnik, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the Croatian Adriatic coast, from 16th to 18th October 2019. The Faculty of Education in Osijek is offering this conference as the registered European Talent Point (ETP) in the developing European Talent Support Network (ETSN).

The specific theme of the conference is creativity. The scientific studies of creativity, its relationship with innovation, and the established field of giftedness studies, are of crucial importance to gifted education and talent support due to the explicitly stated national and international educational objectives specifying creativity as the 21st-century skill to be fully developed in everyone. In order to more adaptively respond to the needs of our communities to educate and support their members to display socially productive creative behaviors and innovation in all walks of life, the findings on creativity must be communicated with the public. This conference aims to provide valuable thematically focused research insights on creativity as the most important topic for the education

of the gifted.

It is emerging as a common insight that if

we are to preserve the biosphere we have to act now without delay. We have to create more efficiently, with much more modesty, and in full respect of all our resources, including human resources.

Three connected conference sub-themes aim to cover the broad social, individual, and educational perspective of creativity in order to provide insight and promote research, as well as best practice based innovations in gifted education. We are interested in your experiences and research regarding the initiation, implementation and continuation of creative, meaningful, and sustainable advancements in gifted education.

It is our great pleasure and honor to invite you to 1st Thematic ECHA Conference entitled Creativity Research and Innovation in Gifted Education: Social, Individual, and Educational Perspective. Welcome to Dubrovnik!



Follow us at: https://echathematic2019.info/

Teaching and learning in an international context

Interview with Margaret Sutherland, Senior Lecturer of University of Glasgow

Who are the key elements in education?

I think children are, children everywhere, one of the key elements of education are teachers. The context, however, is very important when thinking about teachers: where they are and how they were trained.

What differs in each country in terms of teaching and learning and gifted education?

There are some things that we know about learning and teaching and these are common things across countries. We know how learners learn and so on. But then we also know that within countries there are very specific things that have to be done and very specific goals at a national level. So, the context is extremely important. Each country has its own national curriculum, different resources, policies, and legislation,  not to mention the cultural differences. In the case of gifted education, it is crucial to see and understand how the given country views highly able people. Is there a national program to support them? There might be, but equally, there might not be because education, and education for the gifted, is interwoven with a country’s philosophical and political views, its cultural history and its economic base. So responses have to take account of these things.

Is it important for the teachers to find a forum where they can share their experiences?

It is hugely important. We need to help teachers to work together because teaching can be very isolating. We need to learn how we can talk to each other, collaborate and  where we can   share our problems and experiences. When you come together and share, it makes you stronger and it can really help you.

Is there a forum to give assistance to teachers in Scotland? How does talent support work in practice in your country?

There are many ways teachers are supported in Scotland. For example, we have Education Scotland, a Scottish Government executive agency charged with supporting quality and improvement in Scottish education. We also have teacher led groups such as Pedagoo and TeachMeet – practice-sharing, not-for-profit movements run by teachers for teachers. Issues relating to learning and teaching are discussed in these forums.

The Scottish Network for Able Pupils) (SNAP) has specialised in teaching and learning for highly able pupils for over 20 years.  There are gaps between research, policy and practice, and we are trying to bring those things together to help teachers. SNAP has offered support and advice to the Scottish Education system in three main areas: publications, staff development and national conferences.

On a practical level SNAP aims to offer a network of support to schools and teachers through sharing ideas and practise, provides forums for debate and discussion, offers advice to schools and teachers on how to provide appropriate challenge for their highly able learners, acts as a critical friend for school-based innovation and  offers advice and information to policy makers.

What can teachers do in everyday practice? What are the layers of talent support?

Teachers should work collaboratively with others in order to give adequate assistance to highly able learners. Effectiveness of leadership within the school is also a crucial component. I mean the way school leaders decide to organize learning and how support is offered can be hugely influential in the level of support a learner received. Different ways are needed to support and organize the learning process for all. We are essentially asking for an individualized education and a universal system, this is what makes it difficult. If you look at for example, the principles of inclusive pedagogy, it is about how we support all, and  not how we support some.

Are there principles that you can use in different places or you must set up your own teaching strategy everywhere?

I think there are some principles around learning and learners, and we need to look at the literature around how learners learn. We also need to look at the literature about what makes a good and effective teacher. So, there are common things that we can take but we have to take into account the national curriculum, culture and learning environment.

You are one of the authors of the online program called EGIFT, which is designed mainly for teachers working in the field of gifted education. This educational material aims to teach and support professionals dealing with highly able people. What made it difficult to compile the teaching material?

Writing something for an international audience is challenging. I think we have to be very careful that we don’t let any particular voice or narrative dominate. There are countries that publish a lot in the field of gifted education, but others can find it difficult to adopt some ideas. Just as policy borrowing is problematic, practice borrowing can be just as difficult. For instance, some of the things that happen in America do so within a specific system and context. We might find it quite hard to implement things in the same way in the Scottish context. It is also challenging to write in such a way that could be accessible and understood wherever you are across the globe.

What are the advantages and perspectives of EGIFT?

The fact that it is online and free is good because it can be literally for anybody who is interested in gifted education and has internet access. Right now, we are heading towards the end of this project and we are focusing on getting to that point. Of course new ideas emerge and so hopefully we can update once it is embedded, if the funding provides opportunity.