giftEDnz National Research Project Update
Identifying and providing for gifted and talented learners in
Aotearoa New Zealand: Perspectives and Practices
Many of you will be aware that, last year, giftEDnz embarked on a national research project exploring the current status of gifted and talented education in Aotearoa New Zealand. This project replicated a large scale Ministry of Education funded study that was carried out in 2004, by Tracy Riley and colleagues. The aim of this project is to gain insight into how our provisions for gifted and talented learners might have changed since the original study, particularly in an era of decreased support for gifted education. Two further objectives of this project are to gain perspectives from a range of stakeholders (including ECE, primary, secondary, and tertiary educators, parents/whānau and gifted students) and to explore provisions for underrepresented groups of gifted learners.
Progress to date:
In October 2016, a survey was sent out to all primary and intermediate schools in New Zealand. Unfortunately, there was a very small uptake from schools, with only 73 respondents. An additional survey was posted on relevant social media sites for primary and intermediate school educators. This generated a further 93 responses.
Although these surveys remain open, some preliminary trends are apparent in the data, and these include the following:
· Approximately 75% of primary and intermediate school respondents had a specific person responsible for gifted and talented education in their schools.
· Approximately 70% of schools reported that they had a specific concept or definition for giftedness and talent, but several could not state what this was. Over half of school definitions included multicategorical concepts of giftedness and talent, and reference to performance AND potential. Close to half of all schools included key ideas in their definitions related to social and emotional needs, and less than one third of schools included reference to bicultural or multicultural ideas in their definitions or concepts.
· Culture specific abilities and qualities were the least identified gifts and talents in primary and intermediate schools, while academic and sporting talents were most identified. Close to half of schools involved whānau and/or the community in the identification of gifted and talented learners.
· Almost half of schools preferred a mix of enrichment and acceleration to provide for their gifted and talented learners – only 5% of schools preferred acceleration. Ability grouping was the most common provision for gifted learners (60%), followed by differentiation (49%) and independent study (45%).
· Approximately 45% of respondents made use of the Ministry of Education (2012) guidelines for gifted and talented learners. Close to half of respondents indicated that they had had professional development in gifted education within the last five years, and this was mostly through regional GATE cluster network meetings (30%), followed by conferences, professional association memberships, and the gifted and talented mailing list. Over half of school respondents relied on resources from tki (55%) and other websites.
In April this year, a similar survey was sent out to all secondary schools in New Zealand. To date, there have been only 27 responses, however this survey remains open. An additional survey for secondary school educators has also been posted on social media sites, and is currently attracting responses.
Further phases of this project will include surveys that are sent out to kura kaupapa, early childhood centres, and tertiary providers throughout New Zealand. Surveys for parents of gifted learners and for gifted and talented learners themselves will be developed and distributed also.
How you can contribute:
Currently our surveys remain open in an effort to glean more responses from primary, intermediate and secondary schools and educators. If you are a primary/intermediate/secondary educator, and would like to contribute to this study, please follow the relevant link below to complete the survey:
We look forward to hearing what you have to say about the current provisions for gifted and talented learners in New Zealand schools.