ILT funds centre for gifted kids

BY MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 05:00 25/03/2009

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Primary school pupils in Invercargill are set to benefit from a $520,000 advanced-education centre to be built in a former city nightclub.

The ILT Classroom in the City will operate a gifted-children's programme and allow all primary pupils and teachers access to the latest information communication technology.

It will replace the former Sugar Shack nightclub in Don St, and has been funded by the Invercargill Licensing Trust and ILT Foundation.

Licensing trust president Alan Dennis said the centre would be used by year 3-6 pupils from schools in Invercargill and Bluff.

"There is no other centre like this in the South Island ... we see this as an innovative and exciting environment, which will be the envy of many schools throughout not only New Zealand but the world." Classroom in the City manager-principal Pania McVay-Stewart said the centre would feature interactive whiteboards, video and animation resources and the latest Apple iMac computers, which would allow pupils to create internet blogs. "So even if they have family in England, they'll be able to check their progress."

It would also utilise the Southern Institute of Technology's television and radio equipment, she said.

The gifted-kids programme would operate three days a week and provide specifically designed learning programmes for its 16-20 pupils.

On the remaining two days, the centre would accommodate up to 30 pupils and teachers from all schools, giving pupils access to ICT and teachers a chance to upskill, she said.

Pupils nominated for the gifted-kids programme were being interviewed by a panel from Wellington, she said. Salford School principal Marlene Campbell and Waihopai School principal Allan Mitchell said they initiated the idea of developing the centre after seeing a similar operation in the North Island.

Mrs Campbell said depending on their age, pupils would have access to the centre's advanced learning facilities for up to three years rather than having occasional exposure.

"It's not the sheep-dipping programme that we would tend to do in primary classrooms."

Education Minister Anne Tolley said the initiative was another great example of how the community and schools in Invercargill were working together for the mutual benefit of their young people. The centre is expected to open in mid-June.

SMART COOKIES

Prospective students for the gifted-kids programme at Invercargill's new Classroom in the City are tested on their: wKnowledge of technology wLeadership skills wNumeracy Interview in which students are questioned on their talents and strengths. The whole process takes about three hours. Examinations have been taking place during the past few months. Students are generally aged 7-11.

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