The Potential Trust

The aim of the Trust

The Potential Trust is an educational charity set up to provide, promote, and encourage whatever makes education more interesting and exciting for children of high learning potential, especially events and experiences that facilitate the children’s personal and social development, and their practical and artistic skills as well as their intellectual ones.

Is there a Questor in your vicinity by any chance?

Some children make their presence painfully obvious by their driving inner need to pursue a particular topic or skill in greater depth or at greater length or with greater exactitude than anyone else around them.  Others are not so easy to recognise.  They may have the same potential for such a high degree of curiosity and persistence but, for a variety of reasons, are not motivated to achieve in any of the activities that officially make up their day.  Or they may be impeded from achieving – and may well also be discouraged – by some sort of disability or dysfunction, though not necessarily one that has been recognised or identified.

The needs of children like these are likely to be difficult – sometimes almost impossible – to cater for adequately in parallel with the needs of all the other members of their immediate environment at home or at school.  This is especially true in the case of those children who, for whatever reason, have not entirely come to terms with their own potential for learning, or whose behaviour makes it difficult for others to relate to them in a constructive way.

However, these children still need their persistence and curiosity to be valued and therefore fostered and encouraged.  Children need to feel that learning can be an interesting and exciting process in which they can be active participants.  Where there is significant imbalance between high potential and the corresponding opportunities for motivation and achievement, frustration and boredom are likely to ensue…  with consequent problems for the child.  And these problems tend to spill over into the family, the school, and eventually society in general.  It isn’t always easy being a Questor.

We already had considerable experience of working in this field and, in 1984, setting up the Trust seemed the next logical step in being able to follow our dreams and extend our work to help more children – those taking part in the Trust’s activities being referred to as Questors.  No entry qualification or membership fee is necessary for a child to be a Questor, and we feel it is very important that the initial contact with the Trust can be made directly on the initiative of the family itself, at the suggestion of a school, or by any other organisation or individual.

Every year until 1998 the Trust ran its own Quest Week summer schools based on the team’s experience of running similar events for the National Association for Gifted Children (now Potential Plus UK), with a few individual Quest Weeks in subsequent years also.  In addition, and continuing until 1997, the Trust produced a brochure describing other Quest-type activities which it felt Questors would appreciate and enjoy, and each year the Trust has funded and continues to fund a number of children to attend Quest Weeks or other appropriate activities, each choice depending on the needs of the child.

Since 1991 the Trust has been hosting and facilitating Potential Conferences and Consultations for those whose work is in line with the Trust’s overall aims.  These events are professional retreats, giving participants an opportunity to focus on their visions for the future for themselves and for their organisations, and offering time to exchange ideas, share current problems and concerns, explore solutions and effective ways forward, make new contacts and renew existing ones and, last but not least, to recharge their batteries so that – whatever it is they do that is of benefit to HLP children – they can do ‘more of it, better of it, quicker of it’

The Trust sets out to complement the provision already made by parents and schools, other individuals and organisations, in co-operation with others working in the same field.  It poses to themselves and to others the questions:  How can we be supportive to these children and their parents and teachers?  Can we offer them appropriate opportunities, with no strings attached, for their own sakes not for ours?

The Trust’s primary aim is to help children with special needs that arise from a high degree of unfilled learning potential in one or more areas, whatever those areas may be.  But children have an infinite variety of needs, to different degrees and in different combinations, so the scope and implications of what we would like to achieve are extremely broad.  And in addition to drawing attention to the particular needs of Questors, we also work towards keeping an emphasis on the special needs that all children have.

This combination of a specific aim and a general aim may sound like a tall order for a small trust whose resources are surprisingly elastic but none the less definitely finite.  However, like the Questors, we too have a huge amount of curiosity and persistence and we have discovered that we can move mountains – small ones at any rate – by initiating and facilitating various exchanges of information and expertise as well as making a certain amount of direct provision ourselves.  So we make an open invitation to anyone interested in our work and our aims to get in touch with us at any time.

THE POTENTIAL TRUST (Charity No 326645)

Shepherds Close, Kingston Stert, Chinnor, Oxon OX39 4NL, UK
Tel: (+44) 1844 351666  

Anna Comino-James
Richard Farmbrough
Ron Lewin
Denise Yates
Steve Ramsden
Adam Boddison