Every parent wants their child to do well at school. So the story of child prodigy Theo Hobbs is bound, in family homes up and down the land, to be causing a mixture of parental envy at his head-start in learning – reading before he was three, joining Mensa by four - and mild exasperation in their own offspring when asked by mum or dad, who have not taken such great strides.
But would we really want a Theo, or to be one? Known to his family at Portishead in Somerset as Teddy, the whole saga of being tested and joining Mensa came about because his parents, Beth and Will, were worried about finding a primary school willing and able to work with a child so bright he could count to 100 in seven languages. Circle Time and endless singing of “The Wheels on The Bus”, they reasoned, might not be what Theo needed to continue his prodigious rate of development.
Hardly surprising. Britain does not have a great record on encouraging those of “high learning ability” - to use the term favoured by educational professionals. Especially when they come from ordinary homes. Instead it has treated them as oddballs, leaving the likes of Ruth Lawrence, who in the early 1980s made national headlines by gaining an A in pure maths A-level aged just nine, and landing a place at Oxford at 10, to be home-schooled by their dedicated parents.