Director: Laim McGrath
Producer: Martina Durac
Photography: Liam McGrath, Michael O'Donovan
Editor: Linda Nartey
Research: Christine Thorton
Narration: Catriona Ní Mhurchu
Music: Ger Kiely
Location: Ireland
Format: Digi Beta
Running Time: 1 x 52mins
Year Made: 2000

Transmission: RTE

  Sales Company:
Loopline Film, 106 Baggot Lane, Dublin 4, Ireland
t: +353-1-6676498 / 6627
f: +353-1-6676604

  Suggestions for broadcasters: This film on Gifted Children would strike a cord with audiences in any country as this sensitive subject is rarely tackled. The film would also be an asset to teachers and educational bodies in general. A cut-down version could be made available for broadcasters.  
  Ahead Of The Class
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"It's not wonderful to be different, it's a burden, it's frustrating and it's alienating - nobody likes you, nobody understands your jokes or the vocabulary you use. You have to use a different language, theirs, just to talk to your friends or you find yourself with none." - Michael Maher (11 years old)

In this one-hour documentary from Loopline Film, director Liam McGrath delves into the unexplored world of gifted children, their everyday lives and challenges, hopes, desires and struggle for acceptance.

Two years in the making, 'Ahead of the Class' focuses on the lives of several gifted children varying in age from 4 to 15. We spend time with their families, the teachers and those in education who try to cater for their unique set of needs.

There's little Paul in Sligo whose parents are agonising over whether or not to send him to school and Amy in Dublin who is looking for new challenges to stretch her imagination. Shane in Donegal talks about the difficulty of making friends and how he has always been a loner and Peter in Dublin tries to cope with a school system that is clearly not able to respond effectively to his needs.

We go on a journey with these children as they make their way through, a sometimes confusing and alienating world. Over the years, all of the families involved, have made huge sacrifices to help their children and this has sometimes resulted in turmoil and frustration for them too.

The kids can become despondent and difficult to deal with when forced to adapt to what the standard educational system has to offer them. Their families have endured many difficulties in trying to keep them stimulated but also protected from bullying and isolation.

What emerges is the feeling that these children are often left out in the cold, with not enough effort being made by authorities to satisfy or understand their learning requirements and emotional needs.

On the brighter side, 'Ahead of the Class' visits the summer school designed to cater for children with exceptional learning ability based in Dublin City University. Here we can see how they obviously thrive when introduced to university-level philosophy and literature and the many other subjects open to them. For once they are happy, normal children taking comfort and enjoyment from meeting those of similar abilities and interests.

For the first time, in this film, Paul and Amy, Shane and Peter are given the chance to speak, to let us know what their dreams and frustrations are, what they want to achieve and how they want to live their lives normally, to be accepted by others, to make friends and not to feel strange or alienated because of their gifts.

  Quotes: "Liam McGrath's 'Ahead of the Class' stands out as a tender, affecting and informative depiction of the particular challenges faced by gifted children... a moving insight into the social isolation felt by young people such as Shane Carr from West Donegal." - Hugh Linehan, The Irish Times (July 2000)  
  'Ahead Of The Class' is a Loopline Film with
Hidden Treasures | Alive Alive O - A Requiem For Dublin | James Gandon - A Life
Emo Court - The Story Of A House | Essie's Last Stand | Ahead Of The Class | Farmleigh - The Story Of A House
O'Donoghue's Opera | Imprint - Navigating the World of Books / Writers In Profile | A Good Age

John Henry Foley - Ghost Of The Empire | Hallowed Ground - The Quest For The Secrets Of Newgrange
The Quiet Man - Milestone Or A Millstone? | Outside Looking In - Irish Art In Question   
L o o p l i n e---F i l m ,---9---L a d---L a n e ,---D u b l i n---2 ,---I r e l a n d