Gifted awareness week despite funding cuts

This week is Gifted Awareness Week. I support calls to restore full funding for gifted and talented support programmes – programmes which had their funding slashed in last year’s Budget.

Children are gifted in so many different ways, and many need professional support like that offered by gifted and talented programmes throughout our state schools.

I first learned about gifted and talented programmes when I was on the Rural Education Activities Programme (REAP) Board in Te Tairawhiti. The definition of “gifted and talented” includes a wide range of skills and a diverse understanding of gifts. These programmes offered children who might have other learning difficulties the very real chance to shine and to develop a specific talent.

The evidence shows that schools involved with these programmes really benefited from increased professional development support. The Government seems to think that gifted and talented programmes in state schools can be replaced with a small number of scholarships for children from low income families to attend private schools. This Aspire scholarship programme contradicts and undermines the important work that has been going on in our state schools. If anything symbolises the ideological direction of the National Party it is this cutting of state funds for gifted young people and replacing them with a charity package for a few children deemed “suitable” for the private education pathway.

National Standards are also problematic for children way above the standards as much as for those who cannot reach them. giftEdnz are correctly drawing our attention to the inequities which beset their once growing programme in public schools and the unhelpful effects of National Standards on the children whose well being they are set up to foster. I can only agree wholeheartedly.

9 Comments Posted

  1. Great to hear your support Catherine, the current educational system is failing some children miserably. Gifted is a special need, so why are they ignored. Many parents cannot afford to send their child to One day school, yet this could make the difference to whether a child fails or succeeds.

  2. Thank you Catherine for your comments and support! Yesterday’s announcement in Parliament by the Hon Bill English indicated changes to the National Standards regime, which, as you will be well aware has not included reporting mechanisms for those achieving well-above the standard … although this announcement is a welcome change in its acknowledgement of gifted and talented students, it is unclear whether this affects schools’ reporting requirements to the Ministry of Education, or simply reporting to parents. (The latter has always been the case, and it is repeated time and again in questions for both written and oral answer.) I’d be interested in your take on this.

  3. Thanks for the good analysis of the Government’s “leave the kids alone” except for the few private school scholarships strategy. Did people hear Prof John Hattie on “Morning Report” talking about the risk of failure of imposed National Standards?

  4. All children benefit from rich and diverse learning experiences and National Standards will create a narrow teaching focus that will stifle many learners. New Zealand has one of the largest differences between the achievement of boys and girls and the rushed introduction of these flawed standards will only make this worse!

    Drakula-I totally agree.

  5. Thank you Catherine, for your response to concerns raised by various organisations and individual professionals about the current issues in education for gifted learners. I particularly value your comments about the Aspire funding. Such funding is a slap in the face for many of our wonderful state schools, and an even bigger slap in the face for those schools who desperately need professional development for their teachers in this area, but who can no longer access such training because of the government’s decision to axe this.

  6. Drakula,

    Hey! NAT/ACT Leave those kids alone!

    Thats exactly what they are trying to do, lol. Unfortunate as that may be.

  7. It all stems back to Adam Smith who published in the 1700s or 18th century actually… The two countries that initially implemented these philosophies, the UK and USA just happened to spawn the industrial revolution…


    Janine; you could say that the whole NAT/ACT neo liberal, School of Chicaco, the Washington Concensus, Heyak economics all came out of the 19th century time warp and that is where they should be returning!

    Hey! NAT/ACT Leave those kids alone!
    All in all youre just another brick in the Wall!!!

  9. Clearly the minister herself was not a gifted child! Her view of what constitutes ‘learning’ is very old-fashioned and narrow and leaves out many children. The world has changed but she appears to be stuck in some 19th century time-warp.

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