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System change recommendation acknowledges gifted learners

System change recommendation acknowledges gifted learners

The New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education (NZCGE) welcomes the move by the Hon Tracey Martin, Associate Minister of Education, to include gifted education under the Draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan. Deb Walker, CEO of the Centre and NZ delegate to the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, states: “For too many years gifted children have existed unacknowledged in a silo, whereas, like many other learners within the learning support system, they too need different supports to reach their potential. This group is hugely misunderstood and consequently many are under provided for throughout their entire time at school."

The Centre has existed in different formats for over twenty years now and has supported more than 10,000 gifted learners nationwide in this time. Over 1000 students aged two to fourteen years currently access the NZCGE curriculum. Melanie Smith, chair of NZCGE claims, “This is the first major change to gifted education since the National Administration Guidelines made it compulsory in 2005 to identify and provide for these children. It is a great initial step towards true inclusion of gifted learners. As a society we can be uncomfortable with terminology in this area and our perception of their needs, but the bottom line is many gifted learners struggle to be challenged, struggle with self-esteem and struggle with self-understanding.”

The Disability and Learning Support Action Plan in its draft format aims to support all learners who need different support and alternative pathways to reach their personal potential. It plans to streamline systems, create screening mechanisms, provide data to measure effectiveness and place specialist educators in schools with designated hours to co-ordinate learning plans and provisions. It will give educators, families and most importantly our students, an immediate go-to person. In the view of the New Centre for Gifted Education, the Draft Plan is a true shake up to the current system and is a bold, brave step forward which fits well with the Education Work Plan currently underway.

This is the first time gifted learners have been acknowledged by the Ministry of Education in a place where the child is at the centre. “Gifted education is about supporting the child not just their achievements," states Walker. “Whilst our programmes are one alternative on the continuum of provision for gifted learners, the majority of these children are in classroom settings and need to be supported by professionals and specialists who understand their needs and can help them to access appropriate learning opportunities. We look forward to working with the Ministry as they develop the detail of this Action Plan and encourage student, parents, educators and all professionals involved in gifted education to embrace the possibilities offered by the Action Plan and participate in the consultation process."

Consultation on the draft Action Plan will begin on 27th September and run until 31st October this year. More information on the draft plan is available here. Questions and comments can go directly to dlsap.mailbox@education.govt.nz.

ENDS


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