A national talent unit, a digital talent universe, collection of knowledge and international cooperation are some of the initiative in the Danish Government's new Talent Program that seeks to develop and challenge the best students.

As part of the Danish government’s work with developing a national talent effort, Oxford Research Denmark has looked into how the country’s elementary schools and high schools work with talent development and talent programs in the natural science subjects. On the basis of Oxford Research’s work the Minister of Education Merete Riisager in early February presented a new talent program that is to ensure that all students, the matter where they live get discovered and have their talents nurtured and developed upon. With the program comes 65 million Danish kronor from 2019 and four years running.

“The Talent Program is today often at random and based on a few enthusiasts at certain institutions. It must never be coincidences that determine whether one can expand on one’s talent. All children and young people with a certain gift deserve to be met by a targeted, strategic effort that gives them the drive to develop their talents. With this program we create a culture where it is just as “cool” to be great at a subject as it is at football” says the Minister of Education Merete Riisager.

With the government’s new Talent Program, it is sought to systematize and coordinate the effort in identifying and stimulating the top tier students. It is thus necessary to create a new national talent unit that is to support a uniform talent effort, so it won’t be elements, such as where in the country one lives or whether one has a teacher with a certain drive for talent work, that decides the success of the program. The talent unit is to contribute to regional and local activities and concrete efforts at schools where the unit for example will help with strategic and action plans on the development of talent.

The national talent unit must also ensure that a digital talent universe is created, which is to support teachers and leaders in their daily work with gifted students. A thorough collection of knowledge and experiences – also from outside the Danish borders – is furthermore to make a base of knowledge in order to build up the talent efforts across different areas of education.

The effort comes after the latest PISA-report showed that Denmark has fewer students with top tier levels in Science and reading compared to other OECD countries. That is despite the fact that Denmark is placed significantly above the general OECD average in Science, reading and Math. At the same time two new reports points out that:

  • An active talent culture is particularly important in the Danish school system because we haven’t in the same degree as other countries had a culture for grooming the best students
  • There is a need for a collected overview and further exchange of knowledge between the talent programs/initiatives
  • There should be a systemization of the talent effort and ensuring of a better organizational tool at individual schools, so the effort is anchored in the organization and thus doesn’t depend on specific people or based on dedicated teachers