Wed 17.09.2014 - 17:00-18:30 - Plečnik 1-2-3

Discussion on the Past, Present and Future of ECHA  Paper  Presentation   Video 


Moderator: Margaret Sutherland


ECHA: The Early Years  Paper  Video

Presenter: Joan Freeman

 The European Council for High Ability was designed as a dynamic network to exchange information and bring people together. It was aimed at spreading the fruits of research and experience to all. From its registration in Holland in May 1987, expansion was fast and furious.

It was difficult then to communicate with countries in the Soviet Union. Across East and West Europe, where once there had been minimal interaction on high ability, there were now workshops, symposia, little conferences and big conferences – Zurich 1989, Budapest, 1991. Progress was made in setting up student exchanges and an ECHA Consultancy Service.

ECHA was promoted at international meetings, and on the way to becoming an NGO at the Council of Europe. It acted as a pressure group, helping to form administrative policies for the lifelong needs of the highly able. Membership rose rapidly from around the world, so it was divided into working groups.

There was a steady flow of publications, ECHA News, The European Journal of High Ability (now High Ability Studies) and a prize-winning book, Actualising Talent: A Lifelong Challenge (Eds. Freeman, Span and Wagner. London: Cassell). The Academic Committee designed and launched the ECHA Advanced Diploma, proudly awarded to our first graduate in London.

By its sixth birthday, ECHA was financially stable and respected around the world for its high standards. This presentation shows how it happened.

The Future Development of ECHA  Paper  Presentation  Video

Presenter: Peter Csermely

 ECHA has three great strengths. The first is its continuously enriched traditions over more than quarter of a century. The second is ECHA’s superb quality in many areas related to research and practice with talented people. This high quality is exemplified by its journal, High Ability Studies, the most prestigious in the field. The third is ECHA’s foundation which draws on the wide diversity of its members’ outlooks reflecting the cultural richness of Europe. These three great strengths form our ECHA spirit.

ECHA also had three major weaknesses, as I found when I started my presidency in 2012. The first was the gap between research and practice. For political and geographical reasons, within Europe many local talent support communities were isolated and too often had to waste energy rediscovering the basics themselves. It was clear that provision for the encouragement of talents in Europe needed a much more proactive distribution of scientific evidence and exchange of the best talent support practices. This was related to ECHA’s second weakness: although ECHA had been founded as an intensive contact structure among European actors involved in talent support, it had slipped in its direct communication. The third weakness was the domination of the biannual conferences with little positive action between. ECHA cannot only be a ‘conference-society’. Our responsibility is much wider than that and requires on-going high-level of communication through meetings and practical activities.

ECHA's major goals for the coming years are distinct. Most importantly, it has taken the lead in the development of a European Talent Support Network. This includes everyone involved in talent support - politicians, administrators, teachers and learners. The Talent Support Centres currently being set up across Europe are already serving as regional hubs of this growing network, building an interactive structure reaching out beyond the boundaries of each individual country. To be its most effective, ECHA must also grow its membership, and for that, it must be accessible and attract individuals though enriched programmes including its renewed education programme. I am sure that our positive spirit will lead us to an even stronger and happier ECHA in the coming years.