Low numbers may end programme for gifted

Last updated 05:00 22/06/2009
Louis Knight
DEAN KOZANIC/The Press
GIFTED: Louis Knight is thriving after enroling in a school for gifted children.

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A charitable trust supporting gifted children's education faces closing its North Canterbury programme due to low numbers.

One Day School, operated by the Auckland-based Gifted Education Centre (GEC), provides a day of targeted learning each week to gifted children in mainstream schools up to year 8.

While the Christchurch programme is thriving, the Rangiora-based class may close next month.

Teacher Anne Devlin said closure would be a blow for the children, especially with gifted awareness being celebrated.

"It's one day they look forward to," Devlin said.

"It's one day where they can be with like-minded children and try out some new ideas without worrying about being different to other children in the class," she added.

Parents were "extremely disappointed" at the prospect of losing the local programme, she said.

It is hoped the pupils can be integrated into the One Day School in Burnside, with a view to reopening in North Canterbury should numbers increase.

Devlin hoped greater awareness would help parents recognise gifted children.

The signs were often apparent from a young age but not always recognised, she said.

"To have it affirmed is often a relief (for parents), and then there's the bewilderment of not knowing what to do or where to go.

"Also, they're a wee bit hesitant about talking to parents or friends whose children aren't gifted because there's sometimes a lack of understanding."

New Zealand gifted education programmes were introduced in the 1940s.

The Ministry of Education funds support advisers within schools.

The Gifted Education Centre provides professional development for teachers.

Devlin said developing the social and emotional skills of gifted children was crucial.

"If they're not socially well-adjusted and they're not accepted by everybody, society loses out on their brilliance because they just haven't had their needs met," Devlin added.

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