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.