Guest Blogger, Hon. Chris Hipkins

I am excited to have another political blog in the 2015 #NZGAW Blog Tour so soon. This one comes from Chris Hipkins, who is Member of Parliament for Rimutaka and holder of the Education Portfolio for Labour. Thank you, Chris.Chris_Hipkins_2

In the 1930s, Labour’s first Minister of Education, and subsequent Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Peter Fraser set out a vision for education that is as relevant today as it was then:

“The government’s objective, broadly expressed, is that all persons, whatever their level of ability, whether they live in town or country, have a right as citizens to a free education of the kind for which they are best fitted and to the fullest extent of their powers.”

Fraser realised that we’re all unique, we have different talents and abilities, and we are all entitled to a quality public education that caters for that.

Too many of the contemporary debates about education presume that we’re all the same, that every child will learn the same things at the same times, and that the role of the education system is to turn out ‘standardised’ job-ready workers.

We need to take a far wider and more encompassing view of the role our education system can play than that. Education transforms lives. A great education can be the difference between a life of disadvantage and a life of happiness and prosperity.

By focussing our entire education system on ensuring that every child jumps over an arbitrary set of standards at a particular age the current government are selling our kids short.

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 MindPlus.

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.

#NZGAW Blog TourImage Credit: Labour Party

Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at http://giftededucation.ultranet.school.nz/WebSpace/1286/.

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About Mary St George

I teach in gifted education, both online and face-to-face.
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8 Responses to Guest Blogger, Hon. Chris Hipkins

  1. As one who has worked extensively with gifted and talented students in both primary and secondary sectors, I applaud this visionary statement. There is no doubt in my mind that the “measure-it mania” of the present Minister of Education is having a detrimental effect on provision for gifted and talented students. Furthermore, I agree that there are many gifted and talented students who are meeting National standards but are in fact underachieving because they are not being challenged to work at a level in keeping with their abilities.

  2. Tracy says:

    Thank you Chris for taking time to share your views with us. I like the way you have looked back in history and reminded us of the core values of our education system. What I find ironic is that if you read the Ministry’s policies, particularly in relation to inclusive education, one would assume that gifted and talented learners would be having their needs met. Yet they are blatantly excluded from funding for specialist services and support. For NZ to truly have a world class inclusive education system, our gifted learners and their teachers must be supported.

  3. Madelaine says:

    Thank you Chris for your clear outline of intentions for gifted education. I like your references to the foundations of the NZ education system, moving forward to the contemporary diverse environment. Your plans for gifted education are clear – advisors, funding and professional development. The current focus on inclusive education has failed to include gifted students – I wonder if there are some commonalities that could be explored here, and some shared resourcing around advisors and professional development?

  4. MamaChicks says:

    Thank you, Hon. Hipkins. Just because a child is performing at grade level does not mean that s/he is performing at his/her appropriate level. We need to stop trying to categorize our kids into age-grouped classroom and allow them to learn at a pace and depth that is suitable for each of them. This take tremendous effort on the part of a school system. Keep working to provide an appropriate education for every child!

  5. Thank you, Chris, for your time and commitment in contributing to the blog tour.

    It is interesting to watch the growing alignment between the posts of our Members of Parliament who regularly make themselves available to discuss gifted education and the position papers from organisations in the field. See http://giftednz.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Position-Paper-Inclusive-Education-June-2015.pdf for the latest position paper, ‘Gifted Students in the Inclusive Education System’; and also the Priority Learners position paper at http://giftednz.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/GAW-Position-Statement-Full-Final.pdf .

  6. Hanlie Kruger says:

    Well said, Chris. “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.” Absolutely yes. And moreover, we need that challenging and extension to help gifted learners reach their full potential – so we need teachers to be taught how to do it.

  7. Sharon Mansfield says:

    Thank you Chris, for your excellent points about the need our gifted learners have to be given opportunities that meet their education needs, just like every other learner. I too find it interesting that education is seen by our current government as a process that will turn out citizens who have the necessary skills to support our economy. How many individuals with capabilities to create world-changing improvements are they sacrificing by using this model?

  8. Great to read your vision for education of the gifted and talented in New Zealand. Fortunately, and Unfortunately, as much as our gifted students are different, our teachers are different, too. If all teachers must somehow be trained to recognise the particular idiosyncracies of the gifted learners they may have in their class, it is going to be a mammoth task of not only academic, but also of personality awareness. In a recent leadership course in my current business we were all given the opportunity to see what traits were common in different personalities – traits that were positive, but also traits that were negative. By looking at the need to have certain qualities in our team, we also saw that we needed to manage the negative qualities respectfully.

    I believe this is an area that is totally untouched in some classrooms. Some of the more challenging or offbeat behaviours of gifted learners could be managed better, with better understanding of their personalities, but with respect for all members in the class. This will need a commitment to funding extensive professional development. To me, there is nothing better than allowing a teacher a glimpse into a classroom where good practices are happening, and gifted students can be seen as successful and engaged learners. More importantly, if it is ‘their’ gifted student they can see being engaged and successful.
    Thank you, Chris.

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