Many students come to Bedales from Dunhurst which means that there is already a good level of recognition of individual abilities. External candidates all undergo assessment procedures and prolonged interviews which are designed not only to assess the academic potential of students but also to develop a deeper understanding of their overall abilities, with additional musical, drama, art and dance assessments. All candidates (Dunhurst and external) sit the NFER AH2/AH3 aptitude tests and these can be used alongside MidYIS in identification of gifted pupils.
At the start of Block 3, students sit the Year 9 MidYIS tests. Analysis of these informs relevant staff of the relative strengths and weaknesses of students. Students with scores over 130 are considered gifted.
There is a Gifted and Talented program that runs across the whole school, called "QI". Members are invited to join following recommendations by staff and therefore an "appetite" for academic development is sought as well as ability. Tests and exam scores are also taken into consideration. QI sessions are designed to be challenging and at a level that is accessible to QI members and which is above the level that they encounter in most day to day lessons. Most sessions are evening lectures followed by a discussion.
QI attracts a range of speakers from inside and outside the school, including: Prof Jonathan Wolff (UCL); Jonathan Miller (OB); Tessy Britton and Prof Mark Armstrong (UCL), Prof Ian Palmer talking on "Madness", Nicholas Denyer (Cambridge philosopher) and Charlotte Weychan (Southampton University) on Medical Ethics.
Much of the other provision for Gifted and Talented students happens within departments, eg. talented musicians have specialist teachers and opportunities to perform in the school orchestra, chamber orchestra etc. Specialist coaching is available in the Sports department with regular fixtures and specialist overseas tours for soccer players and skiers. Within the academic departments, there is a wide range of approaches, each of which is tailored to the subject in question.
The provision within departments may involve greater enrichment delivered through trips and societies or within normal lessons. Many departments run societies that are available to all, but which provide opportunities for Gifted students to increase their range of experience in a given subject (e.g. "Philosophy Café"; Literary Society, B-Sci etc) and external speakers are encouraged within departments as well as on a wider level through the "Civics" program or "QI". Some departments run an accelerated program for more able pupils such as the Maths department's early entry to IGCSE for the top set.