English Schools' Orchestra and The Potential Trust
Over the last 8 years, The Potential Trust has supported students attending our annual courses through their Questor Bursary scheme.
The potential of ‘potential’
Words are very powerful and those of us in the UK working to help and support children with high learning potential (HLP) know only too well that our words – such as ‘gifted’ – can touch on old prejudices and result in adverse reactions in those that hear them. Our words therefore need to be chosen with care and forethought when we talk about our aims and the special needs of those we work to help and support.
The Potential Trust chose its name precisely because the word ‘potential’ could be interpreted in different ways – all of which mean possibilities, exciting possibilities, for the Trust itself and for those of us that the Trust works to help and support.
The Trust’s name refers to the potential for achievement of the children and young people with high learning potential (HLP) that the Trust was set up to help, and use of the word ‘potential’ (as in ‘high learning potential’) helps counter the often adverse reaction in the UK to the word ‘gifted’. It also refers to the potential of creating a difference in attitudes to those with HLP that the Trust works to bring about. Both of these are also relevant to the National Association for Gifted Children which changed its operating name to Potential Plus UK in 2012 with the comments in its AGM Minutes that ‘Many parents and others did not like the term gifted’ and ‘People did not understand why gifted children needed support’.
The main contexts in which the Trust currently takes advantage of the possibilities of the word ‘potential’ are listed below:
- Potential Bursaries are bursaries that the Trust offers to support the potential of achievement of a Questor, but they are also the possibility of bursaries being available.
- Potential Stories are the stories told by children with HLP or by adults who were children with HLP, and stories told by their parents, teachers, and others. Stories that tell the world what it is like being a child with HLP and that have the potential to challenge attitudes and enable HLP children to live happier lives and to thrive.
- Potential Conferences are events that the Trust organises and facilitates where participants can discuss how best the needs of children with HLP can be met so they can thrive and achieve their potential, but they also unlike traditional conferences as they have the potential for participants to determine their own agenda.
- Potential Collaborations offer the potential for other organisations to ask the Trust to collaborate with them in organising a Potential Conference to bring together a group of people that would further the aims of their organisation while discussing how best children with HLP can be helped and supported to achieve their full potential.
- The Trust hopes to organise a Potential Inspiration, an event more like a traditional conference but with speakers specifically chosen for their ability to inspire creative thinking in their listeners on how best to help and support children and young people with HLP, and with encouragement for participants to formulate plans to put their ideas into action.
- The Trust aims to bring about Potential Change in awareness, interest, understanding, policies, and practice relating to High Learning Potential and to Dual or Multiple Exceptionality. The word ‘potential’ helps to focus our thinking and our decisions, and to facilitate all this work and more.
Founder & Trustee of The Potential Trust
Incidentally, many years ago, as editor of a newsletter for children of members of Potential Plus UK, I was even sent a potential joke by a lad with HLP who was familiar with one traditional form of English jokes. ‘What is the difference between a duck?’ he wrote, ‘One of its legs is both the same.’ It didn’t actually make sense but it was potentially a joke – it had the ‘essence of joke’ – and it definitely had the potential to make people laugh when they watched the bemused faces when they repeated it others.