Guest Blogger, Hon. John Banks

Hon. John Banks, our guest blogger today, writes in his capacity as the leader of the ACT Party.

The ACT Party, of which I am proud to be the Leader, has always believed in a diverse education system that offers choice and challenge to every single child. We in ACT are very pleased to support Gifted Awareness Week – 18th to 24th June 2012 to raise awareness of the needs of our gifted and talented children and young people, as well as the sector that supports them.

As a father of three, and Associate Minister of Education, I am keenly aware of how challenging it is to find an education that fits the needs of each of our children.

With one in five students leaving school without NCEA level one, considerable attention is given to the students that are falling behind, and the education needs of gifted and talented students can often be overlooked.

ACT’s charter school pilot has become a much publicised part of the Government’s efforts to raise student achievement for those students whose needs are not being met by the current system. While the pilot is focused on helping those who are underachieving, in the long term charter schools have the potential to cater for gifted and talented students who also face difficulty ensuring their learning needs are met. It is a shame that many of the greatest schools for gifted children remain closed to those who cannot afford the expensive school fees and charter schools have the potential to create more equality for students at each end of the learning spectrum.

ACT believes we need to start looking at the needs of all learners, not just those falling behind. This means creating more choice in education for all students, instead of restricting choice only to the very wealthy.

This post is part of the #NZGAW Blog Tour.

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About Mary St George

I teach in gifted education, both online and face-to-face.
This entry was posted in education, gifted, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Guest Blogger, Hon. John Banks

  1. Rachelle says:

    “While the pilot is focused on helping those who are underachieving, in the long term charter schools have the potential to cater for gifted and talented students who also face difficulty ensuring their learning needs are met.”

    I am wondering in what way the pilot will meet gifted students “difficulty” and what exactly the word “difficulty” means in this statement.

    “It is a shame that many of the greatest schools for gifted children to those who cannot afford the expensive school fees.” I am also wondering which schools these are.

  2. Madelaine says:

    I’m inclined (perhaps naively…?) to think that the charter schools concept has huge potential to serve the needs of our gifted students. If done well, there are amazing possibilities. Even if done poorly, what do we stand to lose?

  3. Tracy Riley says:

    I am concerned that he is implying that charter schools or private schools are the best, or preferred, options for our gifted children. Where is the evidence? I don’t think we know enough about charter schools, or the pilot schools planned for NZ, to really know how effective or ineffective these schools might be for our gifted students, do we? What might a private school education offer that more appropriately meets gifted learners’ needs?

    Here is what we know: gifted learners have different educational needs, requiring qualitative differentiation. Research in NZ shows huge variability across schools and classrooms in terms of the provision of differentiated learning (see Education Office Report from 2008 which sadly is similar to the findings reported to the Ministry by Riley et al. in 2004, for examples). We also know teachers receive very little preservice teacher education in gifted and talented (reported to Ministry by Riley and Rawlinson in 2006, but the report was never released), and professional learning and development at inservice is limited, but needed (I have never seen a single NZ study in this field, from a Masters level research project upwards that did not find a need for professional development).

    If private and/or charter schools offer a differentiated curriculum, designed, implemented and evaluated by highly qualified specialist teachers in gifted and talented education, who have identified students’ strengths, abilities and passions as a basis for an education matched to their special abilities and qualities — well, how are they any better options than ANY OTHER SCHOOL that does this?

  4. Sue NZ says:

    “If private and/or charter schools offer a differentiated curriculum, designed, implemented and evaluated by highly qualified specialist teachers in gifted and talented education, who have identified students’ strengths, abilities and passions as a basis for an education matched to their special abilities and qualities — well, how are they any better options than ANY OTHER SCHOOL that does this?” Perhaps the key, Tracy, is that few other schools do, or are perceived to do, this. There are still few schools which have highly qualified specialist teachers in GATE for one thing.

    Evidence of the effectiveness of charter schools in meeting the needs of gifted learners would be needed before we could even consider this as an option. I know there are some charter schools for gifted kids in the US, but have not come across any evaluative research on them (not that I’ve gone looking for it, to be fair).

    • Tracy says:

      Yes, Sue, that was my point, though I obviously didn’t state it very well! Until we address the issues raised in the research (what we know!) – and particularly by paying attention to the areas in need of more support (like teacher professional development and qualifications), I can’t see any reason to discuss other models of schooling that ‘might’ work for gifted kids.

      I am searching for research on the effectiveness of charter schools in the US, Canada, etc for gifted learners to no avail to far … that is not saying it isn’t out there somewhere!

      • Louise Tapper says:

        “…charter schools have the potential to create more equality for students at each end of the learning spectrum”. This is a sad indictment on our education system if we have to look outside of our state educational system to find equitable educational opportunities
        for our students. Surely we should be working towards achieving this goal for our gifted students within the education system we have, rather than accepting the carrot of an alternative possibility that may or may not work for gifted children. If our gifted students are not being well served in most schools, as recent research shows, we in the field need to keep working to ensure that their needs are met, as they deserve to be, and not allow ourselves to be fobbed off with shonky alternatives.

  5. Pingback: Welcome to the #NZGAW Blog Tour | Creatingcurriculum's Blog

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