Restored support for gifted learners
NZ Centre for Gifted Education, New Zealand Association for Gifted Children and giftEDnz
17 June 2019
“Restoring support and funding for gifted education is a priority for this Government. This is why I announced a $1.27 million package of support for gifted education in February this year, “states the Honorable Tracey Martin, Associate minister for Education, who goes on to say, “It’s important for gifted students to have stretch opportunities that develop their unique abilities, challenge them and support their wellbeing.”
For the first time in over a decade, gifted learners in New Zealand have something to celebrate. Education budget allocations in New Zealand’s Wellbeing Budget announced in May acknowledge a recent revival in government support for a previously ignored cohort of learners who have suffered from a severe lack of understanding about their needs. “As a nation we are famously comfortable with the promotion of sporting and performance arts prowess, however when it comes to academic and intellectual giftedness many are quick to dispute its existence,” claims Deb Walker, CEO of the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education.
Thanks to restored funding, this Gifted Awareness Week, June 17-23, our gifted learners can go online and look at events, opportunities, and study awards offered by the Ministry of Education. These are aimed at helping them access and improve their strength and interest areas with others of like-mind. These funded initiatives are only a first step in meeting their needs, with increased possibilities still being explored by the Ministry of Education. From the perspective of gifted education teachers, even better news for these learners is that they have been identified as needing learning support by the Ministry of Education. This recognition acknowledges that some gifted learners also live with learning challenges. giftEDnz co-chairs, Nadine Ballam and Justine Hughes, caution that learning opportunities need to be balanced with professional learning for educators. “Educational programmes can only meet needs when those are understood by teachers,” says Dr Ballam.
Gifted Awareness Week 2019 is focused on the myths surrounding gifted education and gifted learners and invites the wider community into the worlds of gifted students, their teachers, parents and whanau as they share their stories. Brooke Trenwith, president of the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children, advocates, “One of the myths we are keen to dispel is that providing for gifted learners is giving them something more than others receive. What we want for these kids is opportunity to add value to their starting point.” In its recent funding announcements, the Government is showing it recognises that providing for gifted learners is an equity issue and that all children have the right to an education which meets their needs.