Guest Blogger, Hon. Chris Hipkins

Hon. Chris Hipkins, our guest blogger today, writes in his capacity as education spokesperson for the Labour Party.

There is a lot of talk these days about under achievement within our education system. The rhetoric goes that we need to spend more time measuring kids so that we can better identify which students are falling behind and devote more resources and support to them so that they can “catch-up” with the others.

The problem with this whole approach is it presumes that every child has the same capabilities, that all children should be learning the same things at the same time, and that the end goal for our education system is the production of standardised ‘units of labour’ for the workforce. It couldn’t be more wrong.

Any child who isn’t achieving to their full potential is under achieving, and that means that gifted kids who are well ahead of the class could still be “under-achievers” if they aren’t being challenged and extended.

The Labour Party recognises the great diversity that exists within our education system. We want every child to be supported to achieve their individual and unique potential. We don’t need to spend more time constantly assessing and measuring, we know what needs to be done, let’s get on and do it.

Labour will re-establish the Gifted and Talented Advisory Board to advise on best practice and advocate on behalf of gifted kids. They will be given a ring-fenced budget for research and will be supported by a dedicated unit within the Ministry of Education.
We will also ring-fence funding for specific professional development programmes for teachers that are aimed at better supporting the needs of gifted learners, and we will restore funding for specific programmes like the One Day School.

Labour has a proven track record when it comes to supporting programmes for gifted and talented students, and we intend to pick up where we left off. The 2014 general election is your opportunity to put gifted and talented education back on the political agenda.

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About Mary St George

I teach in gifted education, both online and face-to-face.
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