Base for gifted children

00:48, Nov 13 2012
Geoff Folster and Juliet Martin
Southland Boys’ High School head of year 7 and 8 Geoff Folster and Juliet Martin, who is the Gifted and Talented Professional Learning and Development project leader from the University of Canterbury.

Southland Boys' High School has become a base for professional development as part of an initiative that provides guidance for teaching gifted and talented children.

Assistant principal Linda Dalzell, who managed the cluster, said Boys' High was the anchor school for a cluster of schools taking part in the Ministry of Education-funded Gifted and Talented Professional Learning and Development initiative: Donovan Primary School, Fernworth School, Salford School, Waihopai School, and Waverley Park School.

It is one of five clusters in the South Island that have been established by Te Tapuae o Rehua, a consortium of Ngai Tahu, the University of Otago, and the University of Canterbury.

''The idea was that (the consortium) wanted to look at a secondary school and the schools that contribute to them, and look at planning and delivery of the curriculum to gifted and talented students,'' Mrs Dalzell said.

The teachers involved in the cluster would meet and discuss how to identify students who were gifted or talented, or both, and would look at how they are working for those students, she said.

Part of their early work would include deciding on definitions for gifted and talented.


''It means different things to different people. Making a definition for your school to identify those student who are either gifted or talented, or both, and developing programmes within classrooms that will meet the needs of those students.''

While the definitions had not yet been worked out and it was not simple to define, Mrs Dalzell thought a gifted student was one who was generally in the top percentile of a curriculum area and showed subject strengths.

A talented student usually had a particular skill in a particular area, often culture or sport but not exclusively, she said.

The Ministry had a lot of priority areas for particular learners nationally which you heard a lot about, such as the students who were not achieving as well as their counterparts, and high achievers was a different priority group, she said.

The initiative was also about schools building resources and sharing best practice with each other, Mrs Dalzell said.

Those involved in the cluster group would meet once or twice a term and would have targets to implement along the way, Mrs Dalzell said.

The Southland Times