26 | ghp Social Care Awards 2017 Best Nurture Initiative for Gifted & Talented Youth - Buckinghamshire SO170022 Established in 1967, Potential Plus UK supports high ability children (also referred to as children with high learning potential or as ‘gifted and talented’ within a school setting), their families and the professionals who support them. Many people assume that children with high learning potential will sail through school, getting the best grades and going on to the best universities to get the best jobs. Whilst this can be the case, often, without proper care and support, many of these children can develop behavioural and emotional problems. Denise outlines the importance of Potential Plus UK’s services and how the organisation aims to ensure that everyone it works with receives the help and support they need. “Research by Professor Joan Freeman suggests that without the right support, only 3% of high learning potential children may grow up to realise their full potential. This is the space in which Potential Plus UK works; supporting the social, emotional and learning needs of these children and working hard to ensure there are no barriers to them achieving their potential. We support parents and carers, and also the professionals who support them, to help them to better understand these children, increase their confidence in working with the high ability child, and to help solve any issues they face along the way. “Our holistic approach has led to the development of a range of services including an Assessment Service which provides a detailed action plan for how parents and professionals should support these high learning potential children; a telephone support service to provide information, advice and guidance; and advice sheets for children and young people, parents/ carers and professionals. The charity also offers webchat services; children’s online magazines for different age groups; workshops for children, young people, and parents and carers; professional development courses for teachers; and weekend events for families.” These services are particularly vital as having a child with high learning potential can be a lonely experience. Being a child with high learning potential can also be difficult. The social, emotional and learning care Potential Plus UK provides can really change the lives of these children. However, despite this need, the charity is one of only a few supporting high ability children, as Denise explains. “There are very few specialists who work with high learning potential children in the UK, particularly those children who face barriers to maximising their potential, such as those that have additional special educational needs. In our work on the Helpline, we saw that many children were being misdiagnosed, their abilities were going unrecognised and, even if they were recognised, often parents and professionals did not know what to do to support them. Our Assessment Service in particular makes a real difference to the lives of children and their families. The assessment reports and our ongoing work with families are being used in lots of ways, not least with Social Services and in education through the provision of EHCPs (Education Health and Care Plans). We would like to do more of this work as we have a real role to play in this area. Demand is building and we need to respond positively to this very real need. “Our work has sought to change attitudes. We have recognised that parents and professionals need help with identifying what is going on with a child or young person. Many of these children have very Potential Plus UK is an independent charity that works with the whole family to support children with high learning potential. We invited Denise Yates, the charity’s Chief Executive, to tell us more about the organisation and the vital services it provides.