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.