From Policy to Practice: How are Schoools Catering for Gifted and Talented Students?
Ferguson, M. (2007). From Policy to Practice: How are Schoools Catering for Gifted and Talented Students? (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2371
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2371
In 2005, the Ministry of Education in New Zealand released 'The Schooling Strategy,Making a Bigger Difference for all Students' (Ministry of Education, 2005). This isintended as a framework for ongoing effort and improvement in education for the fiveyears from 2005 to 2010. One of the strategic priorities in this document, is topromote evidence-based practice.With evidence-based practice, teachers combine evidence from a number of sourcesto inform their professional judgements and practice. This includes research evidenceabout effective pedagogy. Teachers, it states, need to be supported to 'base theirpractice on principles of what works from research evidence and adapting it to theirclassroom context' (p.39). In looking at the practices of schools in catering for giftedand talented students, therefore, it is appropriate, to look at the findings of research.This research is useful in underpinning 'best practice'.This study reviews the literature concerning the education of gifted and talentedchildren from both national and international perspectives. It then looks at currentNew Zealand practice, based on four case-study primary schools. There are veryencouraging signs that these schools are well into the journey of catering for theirgifted and talented students. Each school in this study has responded to the challengeof provision as best it can, within constraints of individual school situations. Eachschool also sees the development of this provision as an ongoing process.From Term 1, 2005, all state and state integrated schools must be able to show howthey are meeting the needs of their gifted and talented learners. The main findings ofthis study suggest that even before the amendment to this National AdministrationGuideline (NAG) 1(iii)c, there were some promising and effective provisions forgifted and talented children within schools. These included school-wide andwithdrawal provisions. However, since the change to the NAG and the involvementof schools in gifted and talented professional development courses, there has beenincreased awareness of the need for classroom teachers to differentiate theirprogrammes in order to more effectively cater for this group of learners.New Zealand primary school classrooms with a learner centred philosophy appear tobe well suited to programme differentiation. There is increasingly an emphasis withingeneral teaching practice on individualizing programmes based on assessment datawhich clearly shows where the child is at, and what the next learning step will be.Current professional development contracts promoting practices such as inquirylearning, curriculum integration and thinking skills seem to have particular promisefor this group of learners. It is very evident, however, that a lack of time and energy isa significant barrier for classroom teachers wishing to provide for the specific needsof gifted and talented learners. It is also suggested that some schools, in particular lowdecile and small rural schools, may be unfairly disadvantaged in their ability toprovide for gifted and talented learners.The challenge for schools now, it is suggested, is to continue the journey towards aschool-wide commitment to best practice in providing for this group of learners.Special consideration for this group of learners should be integrated into the contextof all pre-service training and in-service professional development, as part of adifferentiated programme for all learners. A vital component of this is ongoingpractical support for teachers based on their expressed need, to enable them toeffectively translate theory into practice, and thus implement and embed anyappropriate approach, based on research findings, effectively.
The University of Waikato
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