Learning Support in the Spotlight
6 November 2018
The New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education (NZCGE) is celebrating the recent announcement from the Prime Minister for the provision of Learning Support Co-ordinators in schools. NZCGE congratulates this government for prioritising the needs of learners who require additional learning support, including gifted learners. For too long, this group has been marginalized and neglected.
“Tracey Martin, Associate Minister for Education, has worked tirelessly for many years now, alongside both the Honourable Chris Hipkins and past MP Catherine Delahunty, to improve the conditions and outcomes for all learners with diverse learning needs,” states Deborah Walker, Chief Executive of NZCGE. “There is much detail to be worked out regarding the Draft Disability and Learning Support Plan and the role of these Co-ordinators, however the overarching priorities focus on making a difference for those who learn differently and for those who support them, including whanau and teachers. Prioritising this role is a clear and positive signal from the government that they intend to address some of the hard issues in education.”
Sue Barriball, Programme Manager at NZCGE, claims, “Gifted learners are often unrecognized and or misunderstood in the classroom. This means they frequently fail to reach their potential. Having a Learning Support Co-ordinator who can recognize their needs and provide or link them to appropriate support will be game changing for many.”
The New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education delivers specialist programmes to gifted learners outside of school. Their curriculum reaches more than 1,000 gifted learners each week and thousands of young people have benefited from additional support for their learning needs through the Centre.
“Our understanding is that an initial allocation of Learning Support Coordinators will be phased in from 2020. We see this as positive recognition of the work SENCo’s already undertaken in schools, currently over and above their current workload. A Learning Support Co-ordinator will be an extension of that role, and will be key to providing direct and immediate support to the child, teachers and families”, states Walker.
The New Zealand Ministry of Education advocates a continuum of provision for gifted learners, including in-class support, in-school support and out-of-school support, but very limited resource and funding has been targeted to help provide this. This recent announcement and a current wave of interest in gifted education at government level will hopefully see an increase in resource, funding and subsequent provision for gifted learners right across the continuum.