‘Gifted children’ should not be ignored


The National Standards Policy places ‘gifted children’ at greater risk of being ignored, an expert has said.

College of Education Associate Professor Tracy Riley said it was important to recognise the needs of gifted children, failing which they would become vulnerable to underachievement and emotional distress.

Dr Riley is a specialist in ‘Gifted and Talented Education.’

She is also the Co-Editor of APEX: The NZ Journal of Gifted Education and serves on the editorial board of Gifted Child Today.

She said all children must have access to education that was appropriate to their level, so that they could perform according to their potential.

“Research has proved that the needs of gifted children are not adequately met. The reporting mechanisms for National Standards may put them at even greater risk, since they (the Standards) specify that children can perform only “above average,” although they can achieve ‘below average.’

“There is an argument that gifted pupils will succeed anyway, and therefore, there’s a lesser need to provide the appropriate resources to cater to their level,” she said.

Dr Riley said all children should have an opportunity to perform to the best of their ability and that “we should be striving for both excellence and equity in education, not one or the other.”

She said it was difficult to define children fitting into the “gifted and talented” mould.

“Definitions can be restrictive, but there may be some advantage in having clear guidelines to identify gifted and talented children, who are often neglected in policy.

“There is no targeted funding for gifted and talented education in schools,” she said.

Dr Riley said it was a myth that parents of gifted children were pushy.

When children are not challenged to perform to the best of their ability, they may become unmotivated and depressed.

These and other relevant issues will be discussed at the Annual General Meeting and Conference of ‘Giftednz,’ to be held at the Massey University Albany Campus on March 20.

Giftednz is a professional body for Gifted Education.

Associate Education Minister Heather Roy, Senior Fellow of the Institute for Educational Advancement Professor Michael Piechowski, Education Ministry officials, practitioners and researchers will attend the conference.


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